Military Cross winner Captain Michael Dobbin, from the Grenadier Guards, talks about his experiences in Helmand during Operation Herrick 16.Sitting down to answer questions about his newly-awarded Military Cross Captain Michael Dobbin, from the Grenadier Guards, with a glint of amusement, said:
I’m single, 28 and from Reigate, if that’s my ‘Blind Date’ starter question.
But after the introductions he quickly gets down to business, explaining the events that singled him out in last year’s summer fighting in Helmand province.
He speaks as only a polished British officer can: clearly, factually precise and dispassionately. He would rather speak of the actions of his team than of himself, and, when he does, it’s with pride and admiration.
Captain Dobbin commanded the Reconnaissance Platoon of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Battle Group, operating almost exclusively in insurgent safe havens during a time of particularly savage fighting:
The area where we fought was forward of the patrol bases. The primary threat was from IEDs (improvised explosive devices), which the insurgents would sow in the treeline. When the crops grow, and particularly at night, it’s hard to spot them or the tell-tale markers.
The guys who go at the front of the line can’t use torches, as they would give our position away. They are phenomenally brave guys.
Continues at: GOV.UK – An honour to meet you
The Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade has taken command of Task Force Helmand in southern Afghanistan marking the start of Operation Herrick 18.Over the next 6 months the incoming brigade will support the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) as they lead the security of Helmand province; advising and training as well as providing important enablers such as medical evacuation, aviation and surveillance capabilities.
In a short ceremony in front of British, Danish, Estonian and American partners at the headquarters of Task Force Helmand in Lashkar Gah, Brigadier Bob Bruce, Commander of 4th Mechanized Brigade, formally handed over to Brigadier Rupert Jones, Commander of 1st Mechanized Brigade, officially marking the start of the Operation Herrick 18 deployment.
Continues at: GOV.UK – 1st Mechanized Brigade takes over in Helmand
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond yesterday responded to points made in a House of Commons Defence Select Committee report on Afghanistan.The report focuses on the planned withdrawal of combat troops by the end of 2014 and the transfer of responsibility for security to the Afghan National Security Forces.
It also raises concerns that Afghan forces may lack ‘enablers’ like helicopter support and medical care after the drawdown of international forces and calls for the start of an Afghan-led peace process, including the Taliban, before the UK and other forces end operations.
Continues at: GOV.UK – The future of Afghanistan
The last full Royal Marines commando group to serve in Afghanistan on Operation Herrick is returning to the UK.The end of 40 Commando’s tour marks the end of more than a decade of Royal Marines deployments in the country.
At Main Operating Base (MOB) Price, troops from 40 Commando symbolically lowered the Royal Navy’s white ensign that has flown above their base in the Nahr-e Saraj district for the past 6 months – the last time the flag will fly in Helmand province.
Continues at: GOV.UK – Royal Marines leave Afghanistan for last time
A soldier who went to live in Spain and joined the British Army’s Royal Gibraltar Regiment has been awarded a Mention in Despatches.Private Liam Downs, aged 24, was on his first operational tour of Afghanistan and attached to 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment when he consistently put himself in harm’s way to support his comrades under enemy fire.
On 21 June 2012, Private Downs’ company deployed from Patrol Base Pimon in Nad ‘Ali on a mission to disrupt a notorious enemy safe haven. The insurgents in this area were a particularly aggressive group, well-armed and veterans of years of fighting.
As Private Downs and his patrol pressed forward they came under heavy fire from an isolated compound. Though sheltered, they only had minutes before the insurgents would outflank them and the only escape was to cross open ground for better cover…
Continues at: GOV.UK - Oldest gallantry award for stand-out soldier
A British Army chef has been recognised by the senior UK commander in Helmand for his social and culinary contributions in Afghanistan.Lance Corporal Kennedy Mutonga Muia, aged 28, from Stoke-on-Trent, has received a Commander’s Coin from the Commander of Task Force Helmand, Brigadier Bob Bruce, for his work as a chef while deployed in support of the Scots Guards in Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal Muia, originally from Kenya, was awarded the commendation for his ‘selfless dedication to duty, always putting others before himself’, as his citation reads.
He received the award alongside 7 other Royal Logistic Corps chefs who were also completing their tours of the province.
Lance Corporal Muia’s citation goes on to say:
“His achievements cut across professional, sporting, spiritual and social lines, and have touched soldiers’ lives at both the collective and individual levels.”
Continues at: GOV.UK - Front line Army chef commended
More than 3,000 miles from his home parish in Kent, Reverend (Flight Lieutenant) Matt Buchan has become the first RAF reservist chaplain to deploy to Afghanistan.Leaving behind the leafy green village of Leybourne, Flight Lieutenant Buchan is serving at Camp Bastion, looking after the welfare of some 1,200 troops:
“My role out here is as the Joint Aviation Group chaplain. My responsibilities include supporting the headquarters of British air assets, including the helicopter pilots and ground crew and force protection personnel of the RAF Regiment and RAF Police.
“Parish priests would be familiar with the daily rhythm of prayer and visiting. The difference for me here is that I visit places of work which involve life and death issues, amongst people who may not regard themselves as religious, but who respect the role of a spiritual figure such as a chaplain. No two days are ever the same.”
Continues at: GOV.UK - Faith on the front line