Over 110 Army Commando Engineers from Devon have returned home after a demanding six month tour in Helmand – helping supporting Coalition and Afghan forces in southern Afghanistan.
The unit is the first major 3 Commando Brigade unit to return home early this morning to the United Kingdom and the soldiers were welcomed home late last night to their Chivenor barracks after flying into Exeter Airport.
Over 360 troops from 24 Commando Engineer Regiment deployed on Op HERRICK 9 to Afghanistan last Autumn and their return sees the start of the return of over 6,500 3 Commando Bde troops and their replacement in Helmand by 19 Brigade.
The Commando Engineers have been heavily involved in a wide range of front-line military engineering task as well as rebuilding and reconstruction work with specialists taking the lead in everything from countering roadside bombs to building forward operating bases and refurbishing local Afghan orphanages and nurseries.
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Weeden, the Commanding Officer of 24 Commando Engineer Regiment said: “It has been a very busy demanding tour and I’m delighted with what we have achieved. In addition to our normal role of keeping 3 Commando Brigade moving, fighting and living on operations we have been heavily involved with reconstruction and development work, dealing with roadside bombs, constructing bases and fortifications, and mentored the Afghan National Army’s military engineers.
He added: “Our bomb disposal teams have been risking their own lives daily, saving the lives of both Coalition Forces and Afghan civilians, and leading in the fight against improvised explosive devices. This pernicious and lethal threat has become the Insurgents’ favoured method of attack. Our training and equipment is now better than it has ever been, and we are finding more and more of these devices before they can kill or injure our own forces or Afghan people.”
He continued: “The excellent work of our reconstruction and development team, who have been helping the Afghans to rebuild their country, often goes unreported because it is not headline grabbing, however it is key to campaign success. They have been mentoring Provincial Government departments, delivering infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, and roads, whilst also building the Afghan’s capacity to do it themselves. All of this has been carried out as a catalyst for Afghan Governance, a feature that will be required if Afghanistan is to stand on its own feet in the future”.
He added: “In spite of the challenges, we are making the lives of the Afghans in Helmand better – providing better security and a chance for a better future. The men and women of 24 Commando Engineer Regiment have trained hard, and they have all brought their wide range of skills to bear with ingenuity, unswerving determination, courage, fortitude and humour; I feel genuinely humbled by their efforts and achievements, and I am immensely proud of them. If young people are looking for role models, they could do worse than follow the example of these fine young people on operations in Afghanistan.
Amongst their achievements the Commando Engineers were involved in:
- Opening a new military Forward Operating Base (FOB)
- Building 19 new Command Posts
- Building 16 Patrol Bases
- Deploying 126 miles worth of protective HESCO barriers
- Installing some 50 km of protective razor wire
- Implementing $8Million worth of rebuilding and reconstruction projects
- Filled 625,000 sandbags
- Used enough flooring to cover Wembley pitch three times over and enough corrugated iron to roof it.
UK forces are in Afghanistan as part of a multinational mission designed to help stabilise Afghanistan and bring security back to the region.