Royal Anglian Regiment set to return to Afghanistan

Soldiers in Afghanistan

Soldiers in Afghanistan - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of soldiers from across the region are poised to return to Afghanistan to help boost security in a region which has seen some of the bloodiest fighting in years.

The Royal Anglian Regiment 1st Battalion, known as the Vikings, are returning to the country for the fifth time since 2002.

While NATO ended its 13-year combat mission in Afghanistan last year the Vikings will be deployed to help support local troops.

During the conflict 16 Royal Anglians were among 453 British personnel who were killed with more than 2,000 wounded.

Now two hundred soldiers will be heading out to Kabul in February and March, where they will face testing conditions as they train Afghan National Security Forces.

It will be a stark contrast to the battalions previous deployments when the Vikings have been involved in fierce fighting with insurgents.

A spokesperson for the battalion said: “This will be the fifth tour in Afghanistan and it should be very different from the Helmand tours.

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“We are there to enable the Afghan security forces in their training rather than in the past when we have been there to take the fight to the Taliban.

“We will be training them to do that.

“We are very positive. The guys were there just after the fall of the Taliban and we have seen the troubles the country has been through.”

Although the Vikings have extensive experience of Afghanistan their last three tours were in the Helmand Province, which saw the worst of the fighting, so they have been undergoing city training ahead of their return to Kabul.

The spokesman said: “The guys have been training since around July time.

“Previously we have been in Helmand but this time we will very much be in the big city so the guys have been training for an urban environment.

“There are a variety of roles, some of the guys have been training as drivers and there is cultural training.

“Afghanistan is an extremely diverse country so it is important to understand that.”

The soldiers will have the opportunity to try out the new Foxhound protected patrol vehicle which has been designed to negotiate the narrow streets of cities like Kabul.

While a large proportion of the battalion’s troops are heading to Kabul a contingent will be making its way to Mali during the same period to carry out similar support work with local troops.

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