Aberdeenshire Soldier’s First Taste of Life on Operations
A soldier from Peterhead who joined the Army only a year ago is halfway through a tour of Afghanistan.
Highlander Neill Bicocchi of The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland is currently serving in Helmand Province on Operation HERRICK 14.
The 20 year old is part of D Company who are operating in the Lashkar Gah district alongside members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
It’s Neill’s first experience of operations since joining the Army in 2010 and he says he’s enjoyed it:
“I like being out on the ground patrolling. We carry out patrols once or twice a day, mostly on foot so we can engage with locals in the villages and build up a rapport with them.
Working with the Afghan National Police can be challenging at times but ultimately very rewarding seeing the progress they’ve made over the past few months.”
That progress was illustrated last month when the ANSF formally took over responsibility for providing security in parts of Lashkar Gah city, which is the provincial capital of Helmand.
The area has been able to begin the transition process as a result of the training the Afghan Police and Army have received from 4 SCOTS and their International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) partners.
“It’s meant a lot to be here for the start of the transition process as it’s the first major step towards the Afghans taking over control of their country so foreign troops can leave.
I’ve been most impressed by the desire of the ANP to do well and carry out the job themselves.”
4 SCOTS are part of 7 Armoured Brigade, known as the Desert Rats. For six months, they are working as part of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines who make up Task Force Helmand.
Working alongside Royal Marines has been no trouble for Neill though. His brother Phillip is a Royal Marine who is currently serving with Devon based 40 Commando.
The former Peterhead Academy pupil admits it was his brother who inspired him to join the military:
“My brother’s ten years older than me and growing up watching him serve his country in places like Afghanistan made me want to follow in his footsteps.
Luckily, we haven’t had to serve on operations together yet, so our parents haven’t been too worried.”
Neil is due to complete his tour in October and will then return to 4 SCOTS’ base in Fallingbostel, Germany.
During his post operational leave, Hdr Bicocchi is planning a trip back to Peterhead to spend time with his family and friends. He’s also looking forward to watching Celtic play – something he’s missed while being in Afghanistan.