Commander thanks town for support

THE leader of Colchester-based soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan has expressed his appreciation to the people of the borough for their support.

Roddy Ashworth

THE leader of Colchester-based soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan has expressed his appreciation to the people of the borough for their support.

Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, made his comments after recent tragic deaths among the fighting force which is conducting operations in the country's troubled Helmand Province.

In a letter from Brigade Headquarters at Lashkar Gah to Colchester MP Bob Russell, Brigadier Carleton-Smith said: “Please let the people of Colchester know that their support is recognised and deeply appreciated throughout the brigade.


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“It contributes to the high morale of the taskforce and ultimately to our success.

“The knowledge that the job being done in Afghanistan is not some isolated struggle but one which is followed and cared about at home makes more difference than you may know.

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“It helps us to keep going when times are hard and makes us proud to serve such a supportive nation.”

Mr Russell wrote to Brigadier Carleton-Smith after five soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment died within a week, expressing his own condolences and to ask that 16 Air Assault Brigade - of which 2PARA is a part - be made aware of the massive support which had been expressed by Colchester residents.

Since then three more soldiers from the brigade have lost their lives.

Brigadier Carleton-Smith acknowledged the strength of civilian support by observing in his letter: “The brigade knows very well how much sympathy the residents of Colchester have for their soldiers and how much support they give them.

“I have heard reports from several soldiers whose families have described the huge number of flowers laid outside Meeanee Barracks - that display of appreciation and sorrow is met with real gratitude here.”

Two weeks ago during Prime Minister's Question Time in the House of Commons, Mr Russell expressed condolences and spoke in support of soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade.

Last Thursday, in a Commons debate on reconstruction work in Afghanistan, he once more paid tribute to soldiers from Colchester and the important work they are doing in helping to defeat terrorism and to re-build Afghanistan.

Mr Russell is a member of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Defence team.

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