Mercian Soldiers ready to help train Afghan security forces
More than 100 soldiers from the Mercian Regiment are to be deployed to Afghanistan to join an operation training local security forces.
Troops from the 2nd Battalion will be sent out to the capital Kabul later this year in a non-combat capacity and have been training in Cyprus ahead of the mission.
The 110 soldiers from Dragon Company will play a crucial role supporting the 1st Battalion The Welsh Guards protecting Nato advisors and members who are assisting the Afghan National Defence and security forces.
They will spend 10 weeks supporting Operation Toral, the British contribution to Nato's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, in the autumn.
It will be the first time in five years the regiment has had a collective presence in Afghanistan, the scene of so much bloodshed in the decade following 9/11.
The soldiers will work with the Welsh Guards to form part of the Kabul Security Force, providing protection and secure transport for UK and coalition mentors.
The Mercian Regiment, which was formed in 2007 from the Staffordshire and Worcestershire, Cheshire and Sherwood Foresters regiments, will use civilian armoured vehicles and dismounted force patrols to move the mentors, who are training, advising and assisting the Afghan forces, around the area, ensuring they can conduct their mission safely.
Civilian armoured vehicles are reinforced 4x4 vehicles, and defence experts say they are well-suited for operating within the urban area of Kabul.
The 2nd Battalion has recently moved to Cyprus and can be called on to move anywhere in the world at short notice if called upon. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment have been training on Exercise Kabul Dawn ahead of their deployment.
Major Paul Goddard, officer commanding Dragon Company said: “Exercise Kabul Dawn has thoroughly prepared all personnel within the company for this task. The diverse role and short notice for the deployment has required dynamic training which has challenged and tested all within the company.”
The final British troops were pulled out of Afghanistan in 2014 as the UK ended its combat role in the Middle Eastern country. A total of 454 British military personnel were killed in Afghanistan since the start of the war in 2001.