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  1. #1
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    Default 11 Light Brigade ready for Afghan deployment

    11 Light Brigade ready for Afghan deployment
    A Training and Adventure news article

    In preparation for 11 Light Brigade's deployment to Afghanistan this October, 4,000 troops have come together on Salisbury Plain over the last two weeks for a mission rehearsal exercise. Report by Tristan Kelly.
    11 Light Brigade's MRX

    Troops from 11 Light Brigade, which was specially formed from many different regiments for operations in Afghanistan, have been training on the plain on and off since December 2008.

    The Brigade will be commanded by Brigadier James Cowan who was tasked with assembling the force in 2007:

    "I formed it, trained it, I will deploy it, fight it, bring it home and disband it," he said. "We are ready for the task."

    Brigadier Cowan explained that the training on Salisbury Plain is the climax to many months of preparation and likened his role so far to that of a conductor of a symphony orchestra, bringing together many disparate and specialist units to act together as one:

    "This is the culmination of our training," Brigadier Cowan explained. "What has gone before is about people learning to play their instruments or play as a quartet. Here the whole orchestra comes together for a full dress rehearsal."

    As well as the thousands of troops, the other component of the orchestra on Salisbury Plain over the last two weeks is equipment, including some 400 wheeled and 20 tracked vehicles, Apache, Lynx, Gazelle, Sea King, Merlin and Chinook helicopters as well as a small number of Fast Jets and Air Transport C130 Hercules aircraft.

    Brigadier Cowan added:

    "The performance [in theatre] is only the tip of the iceberg. What delivers success is rehearsal and if you rehearse properly and train hard you fight easy."

    Much of that rehearsal and training has been based around counter insurgency, and with one of the main weapons currently used by the insurgents against coalition forces being Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) 11 Light Brigade will have several specialist teams to discover and disarm the bombs.

    A veteran of a previous deployment to Afghanistan, Sergeant Ken O'Dwyer of 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD) has being working with the counter IED taskforce and will be one of those charged with the task of discovering the IEDs before they pose a threat to his comrades.
    Soldiers returning from a mission

    He has been impressed with the progress made in his training and equipment since his last deployment in Afghanistan in 2007:

    "Since then the equipment has got a lot better and we have everything we really need," Sergeant Dwyer said. "I feel much more confident going out there now. The training we have had is phenomenal."

    In addition to counter insurgency there will be several other main themes for 11 Light Brigade during their six month tour of duty in Afghanistan which include counter-narcotics and developing the Afghan National Security Forces.

    For Captain FJ Du Toit of E Battery, 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, who commands a Fire Support Team who locate the enemy and coordinate guns, mortars, attack helicopter strikes, the training has put him and his men in a position to perform well on the ground in Afghanistan:

    "The training has been very good. We started at a very basic level and worked with more and more complicated scenarios," he explained.

    Having previously served in Iraq, Capt du Toit said there is always an amount of nervous anticipation before deployment but added that he and his team were now ready to put theory into action:

    "Everyone is just looking forward to it and keen to do what they have to do," he said.

    "Especially for the young guys on their first operations, they have heard all the stories from others and know what to expect."

    For one such soldier on his first deployment to Afghanistan, Sergeant Matthew Robinson, 1st Royal Horse Artillery, it is the final realisation of why he joined the army. He said:

    "It will be good to finally go out to theatre and put into practice what we have been training here in the UK.”

    As part of his preparation for Afghanistan, Sgt Robinson also travelled to the USA to train with other coalition forces.

    In fact prior to their coming together on Salisbury Plain many parts of the brigade have been on exercise in other parts of the world to prepare for the tasks facing them in Afghanistan.

    Last year, soldiers of Queen's Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards travelled to Kenya to train in the hot and dusty conditions reminiscent of the Afghan plains and also to find out more about winning the hearts and minds of locals, a key feature of the International Security Alliance Force (ISAF) strategy to bring lasting stability to Afghanistan.

    More recently a mixture of gunners, infantrymen, cavalrymen, engineers and Gurkhas who form the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF) have been on exercise in South Africa, again to acclimatise to the arid conditions and hone their skills for the challenge ahead.

    Closer to home the Coldstream Guards and 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh were the first infantry units to train at the new replica Afghan village developed in STANTA (Stanford Training Area) in Norfolk.

    Here troops experienced a rural village and an urban complex which were designed by the Operational Training Advisory Group (OPTAG) to replicate as closely as possible the situations, sights and smells which troops could face on operations. See Related News>>>

    Now together, 11 Light Brigade will continue to carry out final preparations on Salisbury Plain until deployment in October.

    Surveying his force, Brigadier Cowan was optimistic and proud of what his men have achieved so far but said that the task would be a difficult one and that theirs was just a small part of a much bigger and ongoing effort:

    "What I see are soldiers who are cheerful, whose morale is high and who are looking forward to what lies ahead.

    "In a counter insurgency we are seeking to win Afghanistan for its people. But that is not going to be in my time because counter insurgency requires patience. I'm not seeking at the end of six months to declare success or victory.

    "It is about inching our way towards that success. Others will achieve it in the longer term. We are merely one task force in one half of a province in a much longer campaign that will endure over time."

    http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/De...Deployment.htm
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails mrx2.jpg   3.jpg   34.jpg   5.jpg  

  2. #2
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    So this is a special unit for Afghanistan?
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  3. #3
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    yup pulled together from multiple units and trained together for over a year. (according to MOD)

 

 

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