Army

Royal Irish Showcase Skills Ahead Of Afghanistan Deployment

Soldiers showed how they will act as 'guardian angels' for dignitaries travelling across the city's capital.

Soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment have been showcasing their skills ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan. 

The unit is deploying to the country as part of Operation Toral - Britain’s contribution to NATO’s Resolute Support mission.

Operation Toral sees British forces train, advise and mentor Afghan security forces at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy which was modelled on Sandhurst.

British soldiers on Op Toral also help provide security in the capital, Kabul, including acting as 'guardian angels' for NATO allies and government officials.

"The battalion is constantly going away to different places, we've been to Kenya, Germany, Spain," explained Ranger Christopher Gribbin.

"We're trying to get away from the more conventional sort of warfare now because obviously, we're going into a built-up city and we're doing a different job.

"We're going to be 'guardian angels' for people, training and assisting the Afghan government, so obviously our training this time is getting away from war fighting to assisting the Afghans and helping them out."

The demonstrations were held at Clive Barracks in Shropshire.
The demonstrations were held at Clive Barracks in Shropshire.

At Clive Barracks in Shropshire, soldiers put on a series of demonstrations of the skills they have worked on ahead of the mission.

Among those was the use of the Foxhound vehicle and how it will transport dignitaries across the country.

Many soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment are no strangers to Afghanistan, many deploying to the country in the early 2000s.

"Of course there's always that nervousness that something might happen but it's a good nervousness that makes you ready to meet anything," said Ranger Gribbin.

"The training we've done has given us all a certain skillset to meet anything we'll face out there."

"It can be hard, especially as I've got a wee lad who's four years old, it's just missing him really," said Corporal Ryan Brown.

"The locations we're at are quite well sustained in the welfare facilities so you do have the likes of WiFi so whenever I get time off in the evenings or whatever, I can give him a FaceTime."

Helicopter Kabul Skyline
The skyline of Kabul from above.

Lieutenant Colonel Matt Lewis, Commanding Officer for 1st Battalion, said the mission in Afghanistan was in the "end game".

He added: "It's always tentative but we are optimistic about how the campaign is going.

"I've been in the Army 18 years and one of the things I've seen is how the campaign has matured over that time.

"One of the things I find quite rewarding is, when I was out there two weeks ago flying over Kabul ,[was] just how vibrant a city Kabul is now."

Nearly 1,000 British soldiers are currently based in Afghanistan as part of the NATO mission.

1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment will depart for Kabul from the end of April.