Today at Headquarters Task Force Helmand in Lashkar Gah, Southern Afghanistan, a ceremony was held to mark the transfer of authority between 16 Air Assault Brigade and Plymouth-based 3 Commando Brigade.
During their six-month tour, 16 Air Assault Brigade took part in one of the most significant operations in Helmand province since British troops have been deployed to Southern Afghanistan.
Around 2,000 British troops, working with ISAF counterparts, formed a huge convoy to deliver a 200 ton hydro-electric turbine 180 kilometres by road from Kandahar airfield to the Kajaki dam. The turbine, when it is fully operational, will improve the provision of electricity and irrigation to southern Afghanistan.
16 Air Assault Brigade have also been involved in the training and mentoring of the Afghan security forces and have led several highly successful operations against key Taliban elements.
Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said:
“16 Air Assault Brigade can reflect with great pride and professional satisfaction at its achievements in Helmand this year. The quiet resolve and sustained determination of the task force has been outstanding and through their selfless commitment, every soldier has played his or her part in delivering progress in support of the Afghan government. We also honour the memory of those members of the task force who have been killed and those who have been wounded. Their sacrifice and courage will never be forgotten and our thoughts are with their family and friends.”
The Royal Marines’ 3 Commando Brigade is the Royal Navy’s amphibious infantry on permanent readiness to deploy across the globe, and is a core component of the UK’s Joint Rapid Reaction Force. Their deployment is expected to last until April 2009. For 3 Commando Brigade this is the second deployment to Afghanistan in the last 2 years. It represents a significant contribution from the Naval Service in terms of both Royal Marines and Royal Navy personnel.
Brigadier Gordon Messenger, of 3 Commando Brigade, said: “I pay tribute to the sterling work carried out by 16 Air Assault Brigade over the last six months, which has delivered real progress in Helmand. My priority will be to continue the momentum; working closely with our Afghan and coalition partners to develop the capacity of the Afghan governance structures and security forces and to deliver much needed stability and security to the people of Southern Afghanistan ”.