GWENT soldiers are in training exercise ahead of an historic deployment to Afghanistan, making them the last brigade to deploy to the country.
1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG), The Welsh Cavalry, will form part of 20th Armoured Brigade and have this week gone through the final preparations on Salisbury Plain Training Area.
The brigade will deploy to Operation Herrick 20 next month, coming under the command of Regional Command (South West) and will be the final UK formation to deploy to Afghanistan as combat operations draw to a close by the end of 2014.
Trooper Joshua Jamieson, 22, from Newbridge, joined the Army in 2008 and completed a tour of Afghanistan in 2011 as an operator for a troop sergeant.
He said: “We’re all prepared for whatever scenario comes our way – that’s what the months of training have been for. The aim is to provide assistance to the Afghan National Army and ensure a smooth transition out.
“It’s exciting to think this is quite historic. We’ll be the last Welsh troops to serve there in such a specific role.”
Lance Corporal Ashley Cripps, 25, from Newport, has been in the Army for six years and said he was looking forward to deploying on his second tour.
He said: “I completed the previous Afghan tour with the regiment and this one will also be focussed on providing security. But it’s more about coming back safely and returning everything, and everyone, back to the UK.”
Corporal Paul Trudgill, 29, from Pontypool, previously worked as a printer in a factory before joining in 2007.
He said: “I’ve gone from doing that job to then driving a Scimitar (an armoured reconnaissance vehicle).
He said: “Now I’m a crew commander on a Foxhound.
“It will be an important tour because it’s the last one.”
Lieutenant Colonel William Davies, Commanding Officer of the QDG, said: “We will be part of the last deployment of UK troops to Helmand and It is likely to be a very different tour to those we have been on before.
“The focus will be on getting all people and equipment back to the UK safely and in good order.”
“The QDG has two main roles – firstly as the Brigade Reconnaissance Force which will help to protect Camp Bastion and also as the Brigade Advisory Team, which will work closely with the Afghan National Army.
“We are really proud to be the last Welsh Regiment in Helmand and to help close this particular chapter of the Army’s and the Welsh Cavalry’s history.”
The past 50 years have been busy for the Regiment which has seen active service in Borneo, Aden, Lebanon, the 1991 Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, the 2003 Iraq War, two further tours of Iraq and, most recently, deployments to Afghanistan in 2008/09 and 2011/12.