Brigade reaches halfway point of Afghan tour

THE commander of a brigade which is approaching the halfway point of its deployment to Afghanistan has paid tribute to the people of Colchester.

16 Air Assault Brigade, which is based at Merville Barracks, in Colchester, is currently leading the British military operation in Helmand Province.

Brigadier James Chiswell, Commander of Task Force Helmand, paid tribute to the people of Colchester.

He said: “I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for all the support which those of us overseas, as well as the families we have left behind, continue to receive from the people of Colchester.

“It is at times such as these, more so than at any other, when it becomes clear why the brigade treasures its close relationship with the town.

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“The support we receive is a source of enormous reassurance to us and underpins so much of our efforts. As you would expect, in building on the good work of our predecessors, the brigade is working at a fearsome pace.

“In return, we are seeing the green shoots of real and tangible progress here in Helmand.

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“The most clear manifestation of this is the increasing confidence of the local population to stand up to the insurgents and to place their trust in the government of Afghanistan.

“Despite the challenges, we are all in good heart, and, of course, we are all looking forward to returning home to Colchester in a few months’ time.”

The brigade, which is on its fourth deployment to Afghanistan, continues to make progress in the country by working with security partners such as the Afghan National Army.

This week, soldiers from 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, provided security at a traditional Afghan public meeting in the previously troubled town of Showal.

Lieutenant David Donnelly, of 3 Para, said: “The men of 3 Para have quickly forged a reputation among local people in the area as the ‘fearless warriors’.

“The people talk of how they fight the insurgents and don’t fall back, always going forward.

“Locals are particularly pleased that their own soldiers and police officers are benefiting from training and mentoring from the 3 Para troops and other British forces, whose ability they respect.”

There are around 9,500 British troops in Afghanistan.

UK combat troops are expected to leave the south-central Asian country by 2015.

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