Colonel Gary Wilkinson, commanding officer at Colchester, Woodbridge & Wattisham bases, awarded a CBE

Colonel Gary Wilkinson, commander of Colchester Garrison

Colonel Gary Wilkinson, commander of Colchester Garrison - Credit: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC

The commander of Colchester Garrison has been made a Commander of the British Empire in the latest military honours.

Colonel Gary Wilkinson has been awarded the decoration in recognition of his role as Deputy Commander of Task Force Helmand (TFH) during operations in Afghanistan.

He is one of 139 armed forces members to be recognised in the latest set of military honours announced today.

The citation states: “Wilkinson was the driving force behind the high tempo of base closures in central Helmand, chairing the programme board that delivered the highly complex operation to close or transfer 31 campaign bases.

“Most notably he planned and controlled the move of HQ TFH from Lashkar Gah to Camp Bastion, assuring its ability to function throughout. His ability to lead the day-to-day co-ordination of such a complex phase in the campaign was outstanding.

“He led and motivated his team to meet every deadline and conducted an exhausting regime of meetings to ensure the UK’s intentions were explained effectively and understood by Afghans and coalition forces.

“His development of a new movement control process in response to an increased insurgent threat undoubtedly saved lives. For his outstanding and meritorious service over 12 months, Wilkinson is recommended for national recognition.”

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During his time in Afghanistan Col Wilkinson often came under fire but was still seen on the battlefield motivating and assisting British troops.

Col Wilkinson said: “I feel immensely proud and humbled to be recognised for what, to me, was just doing my job.

“It is an honour that I accept of behalf of the entire Task Force Helmand, which performed with excellence and utter professionalism during a busy and demanding time.”

Colchester Garrison includes Wattisham Flying Station, Rock Barracks in Woodbridge as well as Merville Barracks in Colchester.

Col Wilkinson took over the garrison command in March last year, having led the military aspect of the Olympic security operation.

As well as serving twice in Afghanistan, Col Wilkinson has completed tours of Bosnia and Northern Ireland.

He was awarded an OBE in 2010 for his work planning operations in Afghanistan.

Col Wilkinson also holds a BSc and MSc from Cranfield University and an MA from King’s College, London.