Tim Collins OBE is a retired British Army Colonel.
Colonel Collins is best known for his role in the Iraq War, and his inspirational eve-of-battle speech, a copy of which apparently hangs in the White House.
Tim Collins was born and raised in Northern Ireland, and attended the Queen’s University of Belfast, where he read economics.
He was accepted into the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and in 1994, he graduated as Master of Arts after attending the Army Command and Staff College.
He has served in Germany, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, completed two tours of duty in his native Northern Ireland, in South Armagh and Eastern Tyrone. He passed selection into the SAS in 1988, going on to serve 2 operational tours with the Regiment and 1 tour at HQ Special Forces in York barracks London.
Tim Collins was appointed the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment in 2001.
During the 2nd Gulf War, Colonel Collins’ televised speeches to his troops before battle inspired the nation as no other commander has done since the dark days of World War 2. Despite the heavy fighting around Basra he brought his unit home without the loss of a single soldier.
Collins gave a rousing eve-of-battle speech to his troops in Iraq on Wednesday 19th March 2003. It was said that U.S President George W. Bush subsequently had a copy of the speech tacked up on the wall of the Oval Office.
After Promotion to Colonel, he was Project Director for a Peace Support Training Centre in Sarajevo before taking up the appointment of Colonel in Charge of training in HQ Land Command in Dec 2003.
Colonel Tim Collins was later accused by US Army reservist Major Re Biastre of the mistreatment of Iraqi civilians and prisoners of war. Following an investigation by the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police he was cleared of any wrongdoing. He later won substantial undisclosed libel damages from both the Sunday Express and the Sunday Mirror newspapers.
In January 2004, Colonel Tim Collins announced his resignation from the army, citing bureaucracy, chronic underfunding, and the MoD’s lack of support over the mistreatment allegations.
In April 2004, Colonel Collins was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, for services to the British Army.
Tim Collins’ book Rules of Engagement: A Life of Conflict was published in April 2006. From the moment Tim Collins’s speech to his men in Iraq was made public, Collins became a hero and an inspiration to world leaders and infantrymen alike.
Tim Collins OBE – Keynote Speaker:
Tim Collins is an inspiring speaker, combining extensive experience of active service with broad and detailed knowledge of military and political history.
His speaking topics include:
- Responding to Pressure
- Overcoming Adversity
- Dealing With Setbacks
The eve-of-battle Colonel Tim Collins Speech
We go to liberate, not to conquer.
We will not fly our flags in their country. We are entering Iraq to free a people and the only flag which will be flown in that ancient land is their own.
Show respect for them.
There are some who are alive at this moment who will not be alive shortly.
Those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send.
As for the others, I expect you to rock their world.
Wipe them out if that is what they choose.
But if you are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory.
Iraq is steeped in history.
It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood and the birthplace of Abraham.
Tread lightly there.
You will see things that no man could pay to see
– and you will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis.
You will be embarrassed by their hospitality even though they have nothing.
Don’t treat them as refugees for they are in their own country.
Their children will be poor, in years to come they will know that the light of liberation in their lives was brought by you.
If there are casualties of war then remember that when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die this day.
Allow them dignity in death.
Bury them properly and mark their graves.
It is my foremost intention to bring every single one of you out alive.
But there may be people among us who will not see the end of this campaign.
We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back.
There will be no time for sorrow.
The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction.
There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of hell for Saddam.
He and his forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have done.
As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity.
It is a big step to take another human life.
It is not to be done lightly.
I know of men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts.
I can assure you they live with the mark of Cain upon them.
If someone surrenders to you then remember they have that right in international law and ensure that one day they go home to their family.
The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please.
If you harm the regiment or its history by over-enthusiasm in killing or in cowardice, know it is your family who will suffer.
You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest – for your deeds will follow you down through history.
We will bring shame on neither our uniform or our nation.
It is not a question of if, it’s a question of when.
We know he has already devolved the decision to lower commanders, and that means he has already taken the decision himself.
If we survive the first strike we will survive the attack.
As for ourselves, let’s bring everyone home and leave Iraq a better place for us having been there.
Our business now is North.