‘We have seen significant progress’ says Royal Anglian commander in Afghanistan
- Credit: Cpl Lee Goddard
While much was made when British troops left Helmand Province after 13 years last year, there are still British soldiers on active duty in Afghanistan.
More than 200 Soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment returned to the country six months ago, but in a different roles to previous tours.
Rather than a combat operation, the men and women, many from Norfolk and Suffolk, went to Afghanistan to train, advise and assist.
On the request of the Afghan Government, the UK committed around 470 troops to Op TORAL to support the Afghans by mentoring at the Afghan Security Ministries and Afghan National Army Officer Academy, modelled on Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
Nicknamed 'the Vikings', the Battalion is one of the most operationally experienced in the Army.
The regiment's commanding officer, Lt Col Dom Biddick, said: 'We feel really privileged to lock in the gains that we have in our time in the campaign.
'We have seen significant progress, to have the opportunity to lock in those gains is extremely satisfying.
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'What we are doing is very much in the UK's interest to promote security, not just now but with a view further into the future in this part of central Asia.
'My force in the heart of Kabul, half of it is going out in protected armoured vehicles collecting advisers, taking them to their places of work, enabling advisors to have that vital contact time with their Afghan counterparts, doing guardian angel support, making sure that get people out of harm and getting them back safely.
'If there's a NATO adviser that comes into trouble in the city they are prepared to get those people out of trouble.
'[The other half] are training the highest quality of Afghan officer that they will have had in a generation.
'My men are going out protecting, making sure the brave people of Afghan can stand on their own two feet well after we have left.'
Private Arnie Hughes, 20, from Loddon, is on his first tour of Afghanistan. He said: 'The work has been rewarding,' he said.
'We can see the Afghan army can now stand on their own tow feet, rather than rely on others.'
But he said the end is in sight, with the Battalion returning home with in the next two weeks.
He added: 'Everyone is getting really excited as the days go by. Everyone is looking forward to going back, having a beer and seeing family.'
And Drummer Charlie Gallagher, 20, of Lowestoft, who joined the army in 2011, said: 'For me, this is my first tour. I haven't been able to experience how it was before. What I can say is when we are out and conducting guardian angel we are 100pc professional, we are always alert, always ready and we all get back safely every time.
'I have got 100pc faith in my safety having everybody here. Everyone has got each other's backs.'
It is the Battalion's sixth operational tour of duty since the September 11 attacks.
The Vikings have previously been deployed to Afghanistan in 2002, 2007, 2009, and 2012, as well as Iraq in 2005.