Mercian Regiment will face front line in Afghanistan before being disbanded

TROOPS from the former Staffordshire Regiment will return to the front line in Afghanistan before being disbanded, it was revealed today.

At war - members of 3 Mercian on patrol in Helmand Province
At war - members of 3 Mercian on patrol in Helmand Province

Soldiers will be sent on a six month tour of duty before returning home to face an uncertain future.

The commander of the Third Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Staffords), also known as 3 Mercian, said the tour will be a “last hurrah” before it falls victim to army cuts.

Hundreds of troops from the battalion fought in Helmand Province last summer, when one soldier was shot dead and several others were wounded.

Exact details of the forthcoming deployment are secret but news that it has been confirmed comes after a grim week in which three British soldiers were killed.

It was also revealed today that two died yesterday, although neither death was a result of enemy action.

Focus

Lt Col Chris Davies, said: “This provides the men with an operational focus and, despite many of them having served in Afghanistan before, they are hungry to go back. This shows how life continues apace as we look to the future following the recent announcement.”

Cuts will see the regular army reduced by 20,000 to 80,000 by 2020. It is still unclear precisely when 3 Mercian will be disbanded.

Army chiefs say its troops will not be specifically targeted for redundancy, with losses being spread. But officers admit there is a risk of soldiers returning from war to unemployment.

Lt Col Davies, who was today taking troops to Canada for training, said:  “It remains business as usual. Afghanistan will be a last hurrah for the battalion before its soldiers move on to something new.”