Volunteer soldiers to protect troops

VOLUNTEER soldiers will protect other British forces when they are plunged into the heart of war-torn Iraq for a seven-month deployment.A total of 11 members of the Territorial Army 106 Regiment, from Bury St Edmunds, will travel to a base near Basra, in Southern Iraq, in May, and hope to return to more native soils by Christmas.

VOLUNTEER soldiers will protect other British forces when they are plunged into the heart of war-torn Iraq for a seven-month deployment.

A total of 11 members of the Territorial Army 106 Regiment, from Bury St Edmunds, will travel to a base near Basra, in Southern Iraq, in May, and hope to return to more native soils by Christmas.

The group, which includes ten men and one woman, will act as convoy escorts, assist with medical services and complete patrols across the country.

The trip will be a world away from their regular jobs within councils and as firefighters and draftsmen – but it is a challenge all are looking forward to.


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"It is an interesting time to be going out to Iraq," said Captain Steve Reynolds, a civil servant and 106 Regiment troop commander.

"But everybody is pretty positive, although there is no room for complacency. There is still a risk to our forces, even in the south of Iraq, but this is the job that, as TA soldiers, we are required to do.

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"This is the first major deployment of the TA since the Second World War, and my first operation of this kind. I am pretty excited, but as we are going into the unknown we are not sure what to expect."

The group will receive comprehensive training before they leave for Iraq and, although many will leave behind husbands, wives and children, a package of measures is in place to ensure they can keep in touch.

"No environment is ever the same and no amount of training can prepare you for what you will see when you are out there," said 36-year-old Bombardier Andy Rolfe, of Lakenheath.

"But I believe our training is the best in the world and I am really looking forward to it. I am glad to be doing my bit and just want to get out there."

Bombardier Rolfe, who is married with six children, is one member of the group with active experience after being deployed to Bosnia in 1996.

"It is going to be hard but I'll just take each day as it comes."

The trip will be the first for 24-year-old Gunner Daniel Scott, from Stradishall – who has admitted to being apprehensive about the forthcoming deployment.

"I am just looking forward to coming home," he said. "I was shocked when I heard we were going as I didn't expect it, but I am sure I will enjoy it."

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