Region's soldiers in Iraq call
THE Ministry of Defence has confirmed that more than 500 soldiers from East Anglia are being posted to Iraq.On the same day defence secretary Geoff Hoon announced the deployment of 850 troops to replace American forces in the war-torn country, it emerged that the East Anglian Regiment is also destined for its first tour of duty in Iraq.
THE Ministry of Defence has confirmed that more than 500 soldiers from East Anglia are being posted to Iraq.
On the same day defence secretary Geoff Hoon announced the deployment of 850 troops to replace American forces in the war-torn country, it emerged that the East Anglian Regiment is also destined for its first tour of duty in Iraq.
The entire 1st Battalion of the historic infantry regiment, whose troops are drawn largely from Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire, is due to begin a tour of duty in Basra in April or May next year.
And the Vikings, as the 1st Battalion is known and whose Suffolk regiment has its ceremonial headquarters at the Gibraltar Barracks at Bury St Edmunds, are expected to remain on active duty in Iraq for between four and six months.
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An MoD spokesman said that the impending deployment of the region was not in any way related to the withdrawal of US troops and was a routine tour which had been planned as part of the rolling programme of UK deployments within Iraq.
The 1st Battalion is currently on exercise, and no-one was available to comment on the prospect of the Iraq posting but an Army spokesman said: “The regiment is focussed on its current exercise and they haven't started to think about Iraq yet, but they will begin their training for the deployment early next year.”
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The MoD confirmed that the battalion can be expected to be involved in helping to reconstruct Iraq and the protection of its citizens.
A spokesman said: “The battalion will be trying to earn the trust of the local people and trying to help make them feel secure, they are there to protect them, and to provide security so other specialists can restore the function of infrastructure such as the power station and the waterworks.”
The Vikings are no strangers to the world's trouble spots and in 2002 were employed in Afghanistan in a role similar to that which they are expected to fill in Iraq.
After the fall of the Taliban regime they were deployed as part of the International Security Force, patrolling and securing the worst hit areas of the shattered city, as well as having been engaged in Northern Ireland, where the 2nd Battalion is currently posted.
The Suffolk Regiment has a long and illustrious history dating back to 1685 and is most famously associated with the Battle of Minden, in Germany during the Seven Years War.
Soldiers of the regiment plucked flowering roses to adorn their uniforms before engaging in battle with the French enemy.
Minden was subsequently adopted as the Regimental Battle Honour of the Royal Anglian Regiment, together with the custom of wearing red and yellow roses on the anniversary of the battle on August 1, still celebrated annually.
The current incarnation of the 1st Battalion was formed in 1964 from the regiments of the East Anglian Brigade, itself formed from amalgamations from other East Anglian regiments.