Paras may get Iraq call-up
AN ANNOUNCEMENT on whether Colchester-based soldiers will be posted to Iraq is expected within days, it emerged yesterday .Speculation that members of Second Battalion the Parachute Regiment would be sent to the scene of the recent war was growing over the weekend as plans for a rotation of troops were being reviewed.
By Roddy Ashworth
AN ANNOUNCEMENT on whether Colchester-based soldiers will be posted to Iraq is expected within days, it emerged yesterday .
Speculation that members of Second Battalion the Parachute Regiment would be sent to the scene of the recent war was growing over the weekend as plans for a rotation of troops were being reviewed.
The battalion was not posted as part of Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade during the first Iraqi deployment and instead took part in Northern Ireland operations.
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A Ministry of Defence spokesman said no announcement had been made concerning the replacement of troops due to leave Iraq within weeks.
He said: "There is a rotation of units going on. We constantly keep our options on troop levels under review, but we have made no announcement about any specific troops.
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"If 2 Para were to go, it would not be part of a re-mobilisation of 16 Air Assault Brigade. However, we do move troops in and out."
The spokesmen declined to comment on whether or not members of 2 Para were currently on standby for active duty in Iraq.
But he added: "Troops are put on standby all of the time for various options.
"However, that does not necessarily mean those options are going to be taken up."
Around 3,000 Colchester soldiers were sent to Iraq at the beginning of the recent conflict.
However, between last September and March this year 2 Para were stationed in South Armagh.
In 2001, the battalion was stationed in Macedonia where it was deployed to collect weapons from Albanian rebels during a ceasefire.
In the early part of 2002 the 600-member force controlled the southern half of Kabul, in Afghanistan, as part of the International Security Assistance Force established after the overthrow of the Taliban regime.