Presidential Life Guard Dragoons Regiment
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For more than a century (with a long break from 1987 to 2012) the Presidential Escort Life Guard Dragoons Regiment "Field Marshal Domingo Nieto" (Regimiento de Caballeria "Mariscal Domingo Nieto" Escolta de la Presidente de la Republica) has been the official Household Cavalry and Dragoon Guards regiment of the Peruvian Army, with its primary responsibility to provide the ceremonial protection to the President of Peru and as well as public duties on the Government Palace in Lima. It is one of Latin America's foremost guard regiments, and one of 2 active Household Cavalry regiments of the Peruvian Armed Forces, the other being the 1st Light Cavalry Regiment "Junin Hussars".
|Presidential Escort Life Guard Dragoons Regiment|
"Field Marshal Domingo Nieto"
An officer of the Life Guard Dragoons Regiment escorts the President in a parade for the Fiestas Patrias.
2012 - Present
|Allegiance||President of Peru|
|Type||Cavalry (Dragoon guards)|
|Role||Memorial affairs, ceremonies and special events (one squadron)|
|Nickname(s)||The Riding Escort|
|Motto(s)||Unidos así venceremos (English: Victorious together)|
|March||Quick - Farewell, People of Ayacucho|
Allegro from the Music for the Royal Fireworks
Walk march - Virgins of the Sun
Trot past - Cavalry Trumpets (Traditional),
Allegro from the Music for the Royal Fireworks(Modern)
Gallop - Light Cavalry Overture
|COL Jorge Andrés Anticona Mujica|
This Regiment of Dragoons was raised in 1904 following the recommendations of the first French military mission that undertook the Peruvian Army reorganization in 1896. The Dragoon Guards of the "Field Marshal Nieto" Regiment of Cavalry were to Perú what the British Household Cavalry Brigade is to United Kingdom in the 19th century and were fashioned after French dragoon regiments of the late 19th to early 20th centuries, today, upon its reestablishment it is now the Peruvian equivalent, alongside the Junin Hussars Regiment and the Mounted Squadron of the Corps of Cadets of the Chorrillos Military School, to the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. Formerly the Cavalry Squadron "President's Escort" and later a full ceremonial regiment of cavalry, it received its present designation in 1949, named after Field Marshal Domingo Nieto.
At 1.00 p.m. every day, the main esplanade in front of the building and fronting the Main Square, through the years is the venue for the changing of the guard, directed by the Dragoons of the Presidential Guard of mounted infantry, either dismounted or mounted, with the regimental mounted military band, and sometimes in the presence of the President and the First Family. Today, if the President is absent, the Chief of the Presidential Military Staff and on the solemn changing ceremonies on Sundays, members of the Council of Ministers of Peru, takes the salute on the President's behalf.
In 1987 the Peruvian president Alan García did not like the regimental drill, patterned after the French fashion, of the "Field Marshal Domingo Nieto" Regiment of Cavalry, Life-Guard of the President of the Republic of Peru and ordered the 1st Light Cavalry, "Glorious Hussars of Junín" Regiment, Peru's Liberators, to be his life-guard unit and the Junín Hussars are his Horse Guards ever since until 2012. (The Regiment, as a result, was disbanded that February and was reformed later in Sullana as the 17th Armored Cavalry Regiment.) The Hussars were raised in 1821 by José de San Martín as part of the Peruvian Legion of the Guard, and fought at the final battles of the Latin American wars of independence in Junin and Ayacucho. Wearing uniforms similar to the Regiment of Mounted Grenadiers "General San Martín", but in red and blue, they carry sabres and lances on parade, both on the ground and while mounted on horses. Their arrival was signaled by the regimental mounted band playing the Triumphial March from Verdi's Aida.
They moved to the Army Education and Doctrine Command in 2012 after 25 years of service, but the regiment still rides to the Palace and in state ceremonial events when needed.
The Marshal Nieto Dragoon Life Guards Escort Cav. Regt. were reactivated by order of President Ollanta Humalla and the Peruvian Ministry of Defense on 2 Feb. 2012, but they are now part of the guards units stationed, thus alternating with the other guards units in the palace grounds beginning from 30 July of the same year onward, and earlier made their return on the annual 29 July Great Military Parade. Their Guard Mounting ceremony happens 2 times a week when dismounted while the mounted version is done only twice a month (1st and 3rd Sundays only).
Aside from presidential security, it is also in charge of providing the guard during state visits to Peru and during state funerals.
Their full dress uniforms include either white tunics (in the summer) or blue tunics (in the winter,) worn with red breeches all year around. Also worn are epaulettes (gold for officers and red for NCOs and enlisted personnel), similar to the French practice, and a bronze metal helmet with the coat of arms of Peru. Formerly the dragoons were armed with sabres, lances, and the FN FAL rifle, one of the standard issue rifles used by the Peruvian Army. Today, however they are equipped with lances and sabers only.
- According to British Encyclopedia Dragoon means: In late 16th-century Europe, a mounted soldier who fought as a light cavalryman on attack and as a dismounted infantryman on defense. The terms derived from his weapon, a species of carbine or short musket called the dragoon. Dragoons were organized not in squadrons but in companies, and their officers and non-commissioned officers bore infantry titles.
- Journalist Francisco Igartúa, Editor in Chief of the Lima magazine "Oiga", in its March 9, 1987 issue no. 320, wrote about the decision to disband the Dragoon Regiment, which caused a lot of controversy, as part of its editorial: "....se enfada el presidente con las reminiscencias francesas de la Escolta........y de inmediato ordena que se le dé carácter peruanista a su guardia personal. Para ello escoge a los Húsares de Junín, a los que hace ingresar al patio de honor de palacio a los acordes de Aída, la ópera que Verdi compuso para la inauguración del Canal de Suez, quién sabe uno de los símbolos más claros de la imposición imperialista en el Tercer Mundo....". That very same issue's "Cuadrilátero Político" section, on page 28, described the very day the Junin Hussars made their national debut in the Government Palace: "A mediados de semana, y siempre con apoyo de cámaras de televisión y fotógrafos, se realizó la ceremonia del relevo del regimiento escolta "Mariscal Nieto" (caballería) por el regimiento "Húsares de Junín", que en adelante se encargará de la custodia del Palacio de Gobierno. El presidente de la República, además de su preocupación por el alto costo de la manutención de los caballos, dijo que el regimiento "Mariscal Nieto" tenía elementos extranjerizantes, refiriéndose a los cascos con colas y al uniforme, de evidente reminiscencias del ejército francés. Es un rezago de la misión francesa que organizó nuestro ejército a fines del siglo pasado. Hasta aquí todo parecía razonable. Pero no pudo causar menos sorpresa el hecho de que la ceremonia presidida por un marcial Alan García se haya realizado a los acordes de la música de la opera italiana "Aída", de Giuseppe Verdi, tocada por la banda de los "Húsares de Junín". ¿El uniforme francés si es extranjerizante y la música italiana no?. Al parecer, aquí parecen haber funcionado las operáticas preferencias del presidente García, quien seguramente "in péctore" estuvo entonando "Aída" cuando tocaba la banda".