Army

Preparing For Kabul: Hundreds Of Troops Get Ready For Afghanistan

1st Battalion The Rifles and 1st Battalion The Royal Irish have been preparing for their upcoming NATO deployment to Kabul.

More than 800 troops have been training ahead of the upcoming NATO deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan.

Troops from 1st Battalion The Rifles and 1st Battalion The Royal Irish came together in Wales to carry out key scenarios that they could face during their six-month tour in the Middle East.

 

For the first time since the Second World War, Riflemen and Rangers operated beside each other.

"It is a unique deployment when you consider the Welsh, English, Irish and Scottish element to it," says Brigadier Alan Richmond, Head of the Army in Wales and Commander 160 Brigade.

"This is not a combat operation. This is very much an abling situation." 

Civilians and troops train together during Op Toral 8 060319 CREDIT BFBS
Civilians and troops practice Op Toral 8 pre-deployment training.

Operation Toral 8 aimed to test the troops' skills in specific scenarios.

One of the parts of the exercise saw the battalions dealing with a hostage situation of soft targets - identified as civilians, the press and special entitlement people - and ensuring that casualties are brought to safety and treated.

While the scenario was conducted safely in the Welsh countryside, it is based on true events from last November, when a wedding hall in Kabul was attacked by a suicide bomber.

Troops treat civilians during Op Toral 8 060319 CREDIT BFBS
Troops treat civilians during pre-deployment training.

Rifleman Jack Kendall explains that training for such scenarios is extremely important as the NATO mission to Afghanistan is trying to shift from warfare to support:

"We are supporting the Afghans and trying to help them rebuild the country."

One of the main aims of the pre-deployment scenarios is, therefore, to train troops to be able to de-escalate situations.

Troop in control of a Foxhound vehicle 060319 CREDIT BFBS
Troop in control of a Foxhound vehicle during pre-deployment training.

"We're put into the role of what we'll be doing out there," says Rifleman Ainsley Browne.

"We're getting into situations that might happen on the ground."

A variety of scenarios could happen during the deployment to Kabul as the troops undertake their main role on the ground to provide force protection to NATO advisors.

The key goal is to provide security and to mentors and advisors who will be in charge of developing the Afghan National Army and advising officials in Afghan ministries. 

"They enable Afghanistan to stand on its own two feet."

Troops communicate during op training in wales 060319 CREDIT BFBS
Troops communicate during Op Toral 8 pre-deployment exercise.

The NATO operation in Afghanistan has been going on for several years.

"We always knew this was going to take a long time," explains Lieutenant Colonel Matt Baker, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish.

"I'm hoping this can be the last operational tour in Afghanistan, but I suspect it won't be."

Afghanistan badge on military uniform 060319 CREDIT BFBS
Badge on military uniform.

NATO is currently leading a non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions.

The Resolute Support Mission was launched in January 2015, following the completion of the mission of the International Security Assistance Force in December 2014.

In 2014, the responsibility for security in Afghanistan was transferred to the Afghan national defence and security forces. 

Troop surveilles the area during op training 060319 CREDIT BFBS
Troop keeps an eye on the attacked area as Op Toral 8 pre-deployment training is underway.

Troops from 1st Battalion The Rifles and 1st Battalion The Royal Irish will be deployed to Kabul as soon as 16 March.