An emotional welcome as the last Vikings return from Afghanistan
- Credit: Army
The final remaining soldiers of the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment have received an emotional welcome home from a six-month operational tour of Afghanistan.
The 75 soldiers, who had been touring Kabul, were greeted with cheers and hugs as they arrived at the Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich.
The regiment, nicknamed The Vikings, deployed with more than 200 officers and soldiers on Operation TORAL in February this year, including 25 Army Reservists from the Battalion’s paired Army Reserve Unit, 3rd Battalion The Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment.
The Reserve platoon deployed as part of the Battalion’s ‘A’ (Norfolk) Company, having mobilised in September 2014 to train in readiness for the deployment.
The operation is the UK’s military contribution to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission.
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Following the end of combat operations in Afghanistan, NATO has embarked on a new type of mission, to “train, advise and assist”.
During the six months, The Vikings formed the Kabul Protection Unit (KPU) within the Kabul Security Force.
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The KPU was the first time since the Korean War that US troops have been integrated at such a level under British command.
On a daily basis The Vikings protected and enabled hundreds of advisors to enable them to pass on their knowledge to their Afghan counterparts. They also had responsibility for the security of advisors and mentors at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy.
Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Dominic Biddick, said: “Our men have performed outstandingly well again, fulfilling a mission in Kabul that is very different from our previous experiences in Helmand.
“1 Royal Anglian formed the core of the new Kabul Security Force, a UK-led multinational team of British, American, Australian and Mongolian soldiers.
“As part of the NATO Resolute Support mission, this force has protected more than 7,000 coalition personnel providing critical advice and assistance to the Government of Afghanistan. I am extremely proud of what our soldiers have achieved, and I hope the people in the Battalion’s counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire are too.
“This was 1 Royal Anglian’s sixth operational tour since 9/11, and at the same time as we were deployed in Afghanistan we also had men from C (Essex) Company serving in Mali, training the Malian Armed Forces.
“After another big year my priority is now to give the men some time to recover, starting with some well earned leave and time with their families and friends.”