UKYORKS soldiers on patrol in Helmand

Sol­diers from 1st Bat­tal­ion The York­shire Reg­i­ment (1 YORKS) have been under­tak­ing reg­u­lar patrols in the Nahr‑e Saraj area of Hel­mand province to improve secu­ri­ty for the local pop­u­la­tion.

Sol­diers from the Brigade Recon­nais­sance Force, com­pris­ing troops from 1st Bat­tal­ion The York­shire Reg­i­ment and 1st The Queen’s Dra­goon Guards, patrol through the north­ern Nahr‑e Saraj dis­trict [Pic­ture: Sergeant Wes Calder RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Near­ly 500 mem­bers of 1 YORKS arrived in Hel­mand at the begin­ning of Octo­ber 2011 for a six-month deploy­ment in sup­port of 20th Armoured Brigade.

They have deployed to Afghanistan as a com­plete bat­tal­ion for the first time and are based at for­ward oper­at­ing bases across Hel­mand province, car­ry­ing out patrols and secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions, and pro­vid­ing mor­tar and heavy machine gun sup­port to the NATO-led mis­sion.

Many of the sol­diers are work­ing with their coun­ter­parts in the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces.

The bat­tal­ion has been split up for the deploy­ment, with A Com­pa­ny work­ing with 3rd Bat­tal­ion The Roy­al Reg­i­ment of Scot­land, Sup­port Com­pa­ny with the Queen’s Roy­al Hus­sars, B and C Com­pa­nies with the Dan­ish Army, and the Brigade Head­quar­ters pro­vid­ing staff for Head­quar­ters Task Force Hel­mand.

1 YORKS sol­diers also form the Brigade Recon­nais­sance Force with mem­bers of 1st The Queen’s Dra­goon Guards.

Pri­vate Zak Wil­son, of B Com­pa­ny, 1 YORKS, car­ries out the crit­i­cal role of the ‘Val­lon man’, search­ing for road­side bombs at the head of a patrol.

B Com­pa­ny are serv­ing as part of the Dan­ish Bat­tle Group in the Nahr‑e Saraj (North) area of oper­a­tions. The com­pa­ny have aggres­sive­ly patrolled into con­test­ed areas, putting the insur­gents onto the back foot through work­ing close­ly with their coun­ter­parts in the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces.

As the ‘Val­lon man’ for his pla­toon, 19-year-old Pri­vate Wil­son, from Sheffield, will lead a patrol, sweep­ing the route for impro­vised explo­sive devices (IEDs). He said:

“I joined the Army because I want­ed to fol­low in my grandfather’s foot­steps who was in the artillery reg­i­ments dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. I want a chal­lenge, so I joined the infantry and I haven’t been dis­ap­point­ed so far.

“The train­ing was very chal­leng­ing and worth­while. It was real­is­tic and it test­ed our drills on things such as deal­ing with IEDs and casu­al­ties so that we were as pre­pared as we could be before we deployed.

“The tour has gone quick­ly so far, but I am look­ing for­ward to get­ting back to Ger­many to com­plete some of the fun things the Army can offer, such as adven­ture train­ing. I real­ly want to go ski­ing with the bat­tal­ion.”

Pla­toon Com­man­der Lieu­tenant Steve White praised Pri­vate Wilson’s skills:

“It’s an incred­i­bly impor­tant job, as Pri­vate Wil­son has to choose his route. At times the safe­ty of the entire patrol is on his shoul­ders,” he said.

“It can be immense­ly stress­ful, but he’s coped well with the respon­si­bil­i­ty, espe­cial­ly for a lad of 19. He’s a nat­ur­al for spot­ting ‘ground sign’ left by insur­gents lay­ing IEDs and I have every con­fi­dence in him.”

Also from Sheffield, 26-year-old Lance Cor­po­ral Matthew Wright, of B Com­pa­ny, 1 YORKS, is cur­rent­ly based at a check­point with 13 oth­er sol­diers from the bat­tal­ion in the Nahr‑e Saraj area.

He leads a team of five sol­diers out on dai­ly patrols with the Afghan police in order to dom­i­nate the ground and pro­vide secu­ri­ty for the local pop­u­la­tion. The com­pa­ny close­ly men­tor and part­ner the Afghan Uni­form Police, part of the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces that are grow­ing in size and capa­bil­i­ty.

Lance Cor­po­ral Wright, a vet­er­an of tours in North­ern Ire­land, Bosnia, Koso­vo and Iraq, said:

“I love the job, and love being an infantry­man, because I enjoy meet­ing all sorts of peo­ple from dif­fer­ent back­grounds.

“As an infantry­man I love being in the thick of it all. I strong­ly agree that work­ing along­side the Afghan police we can repel the insur­gents and win over the local Afghans. The Tal­iban are nev­er far away and we — in part­ner­ship with the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces — are try­ing to ensure the locals have peace and secu­ri­ty.

“My best patrol to date was when we pushed into an insur­gent hotbed to engage with the local peo­ple there. They were pleas­ant­ly sur­prised to see us and wel­comed us into their com­pounds. The insur­gents were par­tic­u­lar­ly annoyed that day as it was a real ‘hearts and minds’ vic­to­ry for us and the Afghan police.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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