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1RGBW parade marks return from Afghanistan

big bad john

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1RGBW parade marks return from Afghanistan
11 Apr 06
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion Royal Gloucestershire Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry have been parading at Chester Barracks today, 11 April 2006, to mark their return from a challenging but successful six-month tour of Afghanistan.

The troops were deployed in the capital Kabul and the Northern town of Mazar-E-Sharif in support of the International Security Assistance Force, a NATO operation designed to assist the Government of Afghanistan to extend its authority across the country.

The battalion deployed to Afghanistan in September last year, part of the 10,000-strong NATO force. The soldiers have played a crucial role, supporting security sector reform, and disarming, demobilising and reintegrating illegally armed militias.

They have helped to train and integrate over 8,000 police across Northern Afghanistan and to build up more effective border control, for example through the provision of essential communication equipment, transport and water supplies as part of a £5M UK commitment to police reform in Northern Afghanistan.

The battalion’s Mobile Observer Teams in the north were each responsible for providing information from their respective provinces to the Headquarters, monitoring arrest operations, conducting weapons cache seizures and delivering aid to villages hit by natural disasters.

Over the six months of the battalion’s tour, the Military Observer Teams drove a total of 250,000 kilometres, seized hundreds of tonnes of ammunition, explosives and weaponry and assisted in the continued disarmament of former militia commanders and warlords. They also were integral to the improvement of the local Afghan security services ensuring corruption was highlighted and addressed in a professional manner.

Secretary of State for Defence, John Reid, said:

"The 1st Battalion Royal Gloucestershire Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry have helped improve the quality of life for the Afghan people in Mazar-e-Sharif, working hard to facilitate development and reconstruction in that province and in Kabul.

"Their contribution and commitment, in challenging circumstances is another step to helping Afghans build a viable democratic state. They are testament to the professionalism of the UK Armed Forces."

The primary tool of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) is the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). The PRT is a small military and civilian interdisciplinary group designed to assist local authorities, the national government, NGO’s and UN Agencies in their efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, reform its security sector and disarm demobilize and reintegrate its armed members.

As at end of March 2006 the UK had about 2,400 Service personnel in Afghanistan in total, with roughly 850 serving in Kabul, 30 with CFC-A (Kabul/Bagram), 60 still in North-West Afghanistan, and 200 serving with our Harrier GR7 detachment in Kandahar. Around 1300 are deployed as part of the UK’s initial deployment to the South. British troops are primarily deployed as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.