Almost six years on from their third and final tour of duty in war torn Afghanistan, soldiers from the Royal Irish Regiment are being flown back to Kabul to aid the peace-keeping efforts.
Around 500 troops from the Shropshire-based 1st Battalion will spend eight months in the Afghan capital training the country’s military as part of Operation Toral – the ongoing mission in support of Afghan security forces.
We are both prepared and ready to go for the operationMajor Dan Moore - 1 Royal Irish
The vast majority of the regiment is recruited from both sides of the Irish border with the remaining 10% of the soldiers coming from a range of Commonwealth countries.
As part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, the Royal Irish carried out three tours of duty during the conflict – 2006, 2008 and 2010/2011.
Major Dan Moore said the majority of the 1st Battalion, along with a significant number of reservists from the regiment’s 2nd Battalion, will be taking part in the mission.
“We are very clearly there to support the Afghan National Defence Security Force as they have the primacy and we are there essentially at the request of the Afghan Government,” he said.
“Our actual role out there is providing security for NATO personnel, base protection and also security support to the Afghan National Army and officer academy, so there are three strands to that role.”
The Ministry of Defence website credits the British military role, along with other nations, in Afghanistan since 2001 as having “significantly reduced the terrorist threat to the UK from this region.”
It also says international effort has “helped train a 350,000 strong Afghan National Security Force, which now has security responsibility for Afghanistan’s 30 million citizens,” and adds: “The process of handing over security to Afghan forces – ‘transition’ – saw the international military’s role change from leading combat operations to training, advising and assisting.”
Major Moore, who is second-in-command of the Royal Irish, said the living condition for his troops will be more comfortable than when they were there last in a combat role.
“Living conditions are more advanced than what we have experienced previously in terms of individuals when they are not on duty, but the operating conditions are very similar.
“I think we have had a good individual and collective training package leading into the operation, so in terms of preparedness we’ve had every opportunity to ensure we are both prepared and ready to go. People are feeling ready for the operation and prepared for the operation.”
More than 450 military personnel from the UK lost their lives during the war in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014.