British Army Royal Irish Regiment 2nd Battalion Imjin Coy, Highway One, Afghanistan Operation HERRICK (Crown Copyright, 2008)

RIFLES and R IRISH Ready For Afghanistan

Rifles and Royal Irish Regiments Deploying on Operation TORAL

Nearly 1,000 British Army soldiers from the Rifles and Royal Irish regiments have gone through final preparations for their imminent deployment to Afghanistan on Operation TORAL. The deployment sees 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES) and 1st Battalion The Royal Irish (1 R IRISH) operating together for the first time since World War Two.

The first time Riflemen and Rangers will operate beside each other since World War Two.

Both Battalions come under the operational command of 160th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters Wales. Their final training took place this week at Caerwent and included exercises simulating the kind of situations the troops could face in the Afghan capital. On the ground, the units will take up a protection role, working alongside the Afghan military and government.

Brigadier Alan Richmond, head of the Army in Wales and Commander 160 Brigade, said the deployment was significant, for a number of reasons.

Brigadier Richmond said: “This is a true UK endeavour with the British Army showing off the best bonds of the union, with the deployment supported by Reservists from 6th Battalion The Rifles and 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish, who also come under my command, with Scottish and Welsh soldiers also serving with the units.

“This is also the first time Riflemen and Rangers will operate beside each other since World War Two.”

The main effort of the deployment is for Riflemen and Rangers to provide armoured force protection to NATO advisors to allow them to support the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its institutions.

UK troops will be deployed to several locations within Kabul as part of the NATO mission, Resolute Support. The troops deploy in various stages from mid-March for a six-month tour.

Source: British Army

Image: A Territorial Army reservist soldier on top cover of a Vector vehicle manning the General Machine Gun, protects a convoy on Highway One, Southern Afghanistan.

The soldier was with Imjin Company 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment part of 16 Air Assault Brigades deployment to Afghanistan Helmand Province.

Over 20 soldiers from Imjin Company, the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment have been working alongside the Afghan National Army in the Upper Gereshk Valley of Helmand Province of Southern Afghanistan.

Imjin Company are the only unit to be made up entirely of Territorial Army soldiers and are carrying out a role which is the same as their regular counterparts from the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment.

The TA rangers are based at Forward Operating Base Keenan in the heart of the Green Zone. The Company have rotated their soldiers through the FOB so that as many soldiers get to experience working with the ANA. Imjin Company also provide a vital role in Camp Bastion, where the majority of British Troops in Afghanistan work from. They provide the force protection for the whole camp which includes the security of the main gate, to act as a Quick Reaction Force and also provide six soldiers at a time to work with the Immediate Response Team. transporting casualties from the frontline to the field hospital in Camp Bastion.

Photograph by Sgt Anthony Boocock, RLC (Crown Copyright, 2008).