Friday, 31 July 2009

Rapid reaction brigades set for third Afghan tour

It has just been announced that 16 Air Assault Brigade and 3 Commando Brigade are being called on to undertake their third tours in Afghanistan. 16 Air Assault Brigade will return to Afghanistan in October 2010 and will be relieved by 3 Commando Brigade in the spring of 2011.

The two brigades have been requested by senior officers in the UK's Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) in Northwood because of their combat record in Afghanistan and experience of air-land integration,. They are the only two UK formations to have served two tours in Afghanistan to date.

16 Air Assault's most recent tour of duty marked the first time that any Brigade of the British Army had returned to Helmand province and was noted for the delivery of a generator to the Kajaki Dam and significant progress in the counter insurgency campaign. Since it was formed in 1999, 50 soldiers from the Brigade have lost their lives in enemy action during Brigade deployments: 3 in Iraq on Operation TELIC I, 19 in Afghanistan during 2006 and 2007, and 28 in Afghanistan during the Brigade's most recent deployment on Operation Herrick 8 from March to October 2008

3 Commando Brigade returned last Spring from a particularly tough tour, a tour in which they suffered 33 casualities and many others were wounded. On their return they paraded through central London and were honoured with a high profile reception at the Houses of Parliament.

19 Light Brigade is currently providing the UK Task Force in Helmand province to be replaced in October by 11 Light Brigade.