If you have a story call our newsdesk on 01722 426511 or email us. To advertise call 01722 426500.
Ready for deployment
UNTIL September 2, 4th Mechanised Brigade from Catterick is carrying out its final predeployment exercise on the Plain before troops leave in the first week of September to replace Tidworth-based 12 Brigade.
A media briefing was held at Bulford to show off the brigade’s troops and equipment and explain how this deployment would operate.
The Task Force Commander, Brigadier Bob Bruce, Late Royal Scots, explained that the main thrust of this deployment was the delivery and management of change and the process of transition to Afghan Security Forces (ANSF) which he admitted was “not new, but it is a challenge that I acknowledge up front”.
The commander outlined three challenges that he and his forces faced: Firstly to continue to develop the process of enabling ANSF to take over security in areas while continuing to work closely alongside them. Secondly, as ANSF grow in competence and confidence, UK forces will reduce their profile, leading to the withdrawal of 500 troops by the end of the year.
Thirdly, although the tour is only six months, much work will be done to set conditions for the handover to 1st Mechanised Brigade from Bulford in 2013.
He stated that although he would deploy with a force of some 6,000 troops, he was intending to implement a 500 strong, condition- based, drawdown by December 31.
Also attending the briefing was the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff.
He emphasised that Afghanistan remains a national security issue, making sure that it does not become a safe haven for the kind of terror that has been seen in past.
“The job is about training the Afghan National Security Forces to prevent that threat returning, which means a very different approach from our people on the ground,” he said.
“By the time 4 Bde leaves, 75 per cent of the country’s security will be in the hands of ANSF themselves and the tour will see the first drawdown of British troops, moving towards the end of all combat operations by 2014.”