Van Orden praises dedication of troops

AN MEP has spoken of the “dedication and professionalism” of Suffolk and Essex-based troops currently serving in Afghanistan after returning from a four-day visit to the front line.

Graham Dines

AN MEP has spoken of the “dedication and professionalism” of Suffolk and Essex-based troops currently serving in Afghanistan after returning from a four-day visit to the front line.

Geoffrey Van Orden, the Conservative defence spokesman in the European Parliament and an MEP for the East of England, spent time talking and listening to the concerns of troops based in Afghanistan.

He visited forward units at Lashkar Gah, Camp Bastion and Camp Shorabak. Mr Van Orden met elements of 16 Air Assault Brigade from Colchester, Wattisham, Woodbridge, and Peterborough as well as RAF Regiment personnel from RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire. He also met Afghan, American, Australian, and Bulgarian soldiers.

Mr Van Orden, who is a former army brigadier, said: “While our troops are giving vital support to the Afghan people, building schools, providing water and electricity supply, opening routes to market, and taking every possible care to avoid civilian casualties in any military engagement, terrorist fanatics are engaged in coercion and indiscriminate murder of their own population.

“An example of this was the nine-year old girl who was severely injured in a suicide bomb attack which killed four Afghan civilians in the town of Musa Qaleh.

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“She was carried into the arms of British forces, which flew her to the field hospital at Camp Bastion where she was given emergency treatment which saved her life.

“I met her father at her bedside. He expressed his deep gratitude to the British Army. The field hospital was manned by reservist volunteers drawn from hospitals in Peterborough, Cardiff and other parts of the UK.”

Mr Van Orden added: “The dedication and professionalism of British troops at all levels was an inspiration. I would like local people at home to understand even more about the very worthwhile work that they are doing in difficult and dangerous circumstances.”

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