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Theatre Working Dogs Support Unit: Awards and Farewells

March 27, 2011

Acting Lance Corporal (A L/Cpl) Ian Richard Russell, Royal Army Veterinary Corps, received a Joint Force Support (Afghanistan) Commanders Commendation from Brigadier Alister Davis today.

Acting Lance Corporal Ian Richard Russell receives Commander's Commendation from Brigadier Davis. Picture: Flt Lt Nick Downs. Crown Copyright/MOD 2011.

Acting Lance Corporal Russell celebrating his Commendation with colleagues. Photo: Flt Lt Nick Downs. Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

A L/Cpl Russell, a Vehicle Search Dog Handler for the 104 Theatre Military Working Dogs Support Unit (TMWDSU) at Camp Bastion, received the award for his continual hard work and for often doubling the efforts and hard work of others.  The award also recognised his ‘dogged’ determination in his job.

Smiles all round at the end of the 6-month tour. Picture: Flt Lt Nick Downs. Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

The small ceremony marked the end of the 104 TMWDSU six month deployment to Helmand.  At the presentation Brigadier Davis thanked them all for their hard work in helping to save lives.  He added: “I am personally sorry that you are no longer under my command.  You put your heart and soul into your job, not without loss and sacrifice, and I want to say ‘Farewell’ to you all.”

The team are returning to the UK on Monday for a well-earned period of leave.

The team that make up 104 Theatre Military Working Dogs Support Unit, Camp Bastion. Picture: Flt Lt Nick Downs. Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

British pair awarded Estonian Land Forces Medal

March 27, 2011

Two British Sergeants who served six months closely with the Estonian Company in northern Nad-e Ali, were awarded at the end of their tour with the Estonian Army Silver Cross of Merit.

The Commander of the Estonian Land Forces Colonel Indrek Sirel awarded Sergeant Wayne Shorthouse from 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3PARA) and Sergeant Kevin Tomlinson from 1st Battalion Irish Guards for the cooperation and great support provided by the NCO`s to the Estonian Company in Helmand.

Sergeant Wayne Shorthouse, 3 PARA Liaison Officer to the Estonian Comany receives the Estonian Army Silver Cross of Merit from EST COY OC Major Ranno Raudsik

Sergeant Wayne Shorthouse was assigned to the Estonian Company as a 3 PARA Liaison Officer. Sergeant Kevin Tomlinson from Irish Guards served as the Afghan National Army advisor in the area of responsibility of the Estonian Company.

Sergeant Kevin Tomlinson from Irish Guards receives the award.

Medals were presented on Friday’s line up in Patrol Base Wahid by the OC of the Estonian Company.

Major Ranno Raudsik, Officer Commanding EST COY, said:

“We appreciate the support provided by the British NCO`s to our Company. Both Sergeants showed initiative and stayed professional even in most difficult situations. Thanks to their dedication there was good information exchange with the Battle Group and we can rely on the ANA during the patrols.”

Sergeant Kevin Tomlinson, ANA Adviser, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, said:

“It`s been quite easy to serve with Estonians, they are good blokes. Different personality to the Brits but still we get along well.”

Sergeant Wayne Shorthouse, 3 PARA Liaison Officer, said:

“I found that Estonians are very professional soldiers.”

The Estonian Army Silver Cross of Merit is the highest Land Forces medal for NCO`s. The medal has been presented since 2004 and it`s given to NCO`s for the contribution of development of the Land Forces. There are only two foreign NCO`s who have received it previously, one of them is British.

Most of the 164 Estonian troops in Afghanistan are based in Patrol Base Wahid and surrounding checkpoints in northern Nad-e Ali, where they work alongside British troops from 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment to drive out insurgent elements, restore peace and stability to communities, and develop the capability of Afghanistan’s own armed forces.

Sergeant Wayne Shorthouse, 3 PARA Liaison Officer to the Estonian Comany

Innovative Defence kit showcased during National Science and Engineering Week

March 27, 2011

A new form of armoured netting which can stop rocket-propelled grenades damaging vehicles was one of the items showcased at an event to mark National Science and Engineering Week.

Tarian QuickShield netting, which is similar in appearance to a string vest, was among several innovations displayed in London today which have been created by MOD scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and members of the defence industry.

Tarian QuickShield by AmSafe of Bridport, Dorset, acts as a 'band aid', temporarily replacing broken bar armour (Picture: Copyright AmSafe Ltd)

The event gave an insight into current technologies being deployed in support of our Armed Forces and a forward look at the scientific innovations which may one day add to the current impressive range of tools which give military personnel a battle-winning edge.

Tarian QuickShield is a lightweight net or ‘band aid for bar armour’, strong enough to protect against rocket-propelled grenades, which will be used to rapidly replace damaged bar armour on military vehicles in the field.

Stowed in the vehicle, the netting can be fitted immediately without any tools. It is due to be delivered to Afghanistan next month as part of a £2.6m contract.

As well as the netting, a pioneering approach to tackling the problem of ‘helicopter brownout’, where a pilot loses visual references due to dust or sand, was also showcased.

The kit uses a small, helmet-mounted display to provide a virtual 3D representation of the landing zone that stays fixed to the earth and helps the pilot to land safely.

To read the full article, click HERE or on the image below.

A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter takes off during an exercise involving practising dust landings (Picture: Senior Aircraftman Neil Chapman, Crown Copyright/MOD)

The World’s toughest driving test!

March 26, 2011

Some of the military just arriving for six months in Helmand have never before driven vehicles used in theatre, nor experienced the challenges of terrain that can be as threatening as the enemy.

So instructors send them over a huge and realistic extreme off-road course where everything from quad bikes to 30-tonne armoured vehicles attempt crossing thirty-foot-high sand beams, dried river beds and see-sawing undulations that test springs and nerves to the max.

Click on the image below to view the video by British Forces Broadcasting Service

Major Matthew James Collins and Lance Sergeant Mark Terence Burgan killed in Afghanistan

March 25, 2011

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Major Matthew James Collins and Lance Sergeant Mark Terence Burgan, both from the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday 23 March 2011.

Major Matthew Collins and Lance Sergeant Mark Burgan, 1st Battalion Irish Guards (Pictures: via MOD)

Both soldiers were killed by an improvised explosive device after returning from an operation in support of an Afghan National Army Company, alongside C Company of the Danish Battle Group, to disrupt insurgent activity and search compounds of interest in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

Major Matthew James Collins

Major Collins, aged 38 came from Backwell in Somerset. He commissioned into the 1st Battalion Irish Guards in August 1996, and travelled all over the world with the Battalion, serving operationally in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on exercise in Belize, Kenya, Oman and the Falkland Islands.

Major Collins was the Company Commander of Number 3 Company and deployed on Operation HERRICK 13 as the Commander of the Advisory Team to the 3rd Kandak of the UK’s partnered Afghan Brigade. In this role, through his professional excellence, natural intelligence and force of personality, he has made a significant improvement to the operational capability of the Afghan soldiers and officers he advised.

Major Collins was passionate about his family. He spoke often of his wife, Lucy, his daughter, Freya, and his son, Charlie. He also leaves behind his father, Derek, mother Tricia, and brothers, Mark, Nick and Chris. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

The family of Major Collins have made the following statement:

“Not only a soldier but a caring husband, devoted father to Freya and Charlie, caring son, wonderful brother and friend to many. We will all miss him and remember him always.”

Lance Sergeant Mark Terence Burgan

Lance Sergeant Burgan (28) came from Liverpool, and joined the 1st Battalion Irish Guards in 1999. He served on Operations in Northern Ireland, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He rose to the rank of Lance Sergeant, joined the Battalion Signals Platoon, becoming a Signals Detachment Commander – a job at which he was hugely capable.

However, his skills stretched far beyond this. He was an extremely talented junior commander, professional in every way; this, coupled with his consummate loyalty to his friends and family made him a man his subordinates strove to emulate. A man who genuinely loved his job, he saw the Signals Platoon as being one big family, and one of which he was a key part.

Lance Sergeant Burgan was a strong family man to his core. He leaves behind his wife, Leanne, as well as his parents, Terry and Rita, and sisters, Laura, Kate and Jayne, and we offer our deepest condolences.

Mrs Leanne Burgan, the wife of Lance Sergeant Burgan, has made the following statement:

“I am so honoured to be Mark’s wife. I will always love my hero. Mark was an extremely proud Irish Guardsman, dad, husband, brother and son. He will forever be in our hearts.”

To read the full Eulogies for Major Matthew James Collins and Lance Sergeant Mark Terence Burgan click HERE.

Operational Honours and Awards List

March 25, 2011

A total of 136 members of the Armed Forces have received honours and awards in the Operational Honours List dated today, 25 March 2011.

The full list, which recognises service on operations in Afghanistan and national operations for the period 1 April to 30 September 2010, can be viewed by clicking on the image below.

Click on the image below to view the full list of Honours and Awards.

Click on the image below to view the complete list of Honours and Awards.

RAF pilot contributes skill and expertise to Afghan pilot training

March 25, 2011

Seven days a week, and more than 3,000 miles from home, he worked tirelessly as an ambassador of his language and culture.

You may think it’s fiction but in reality over the last 90 days Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant Dean Curt, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Operations, put on hold his daily routine to impact the lives of many up-and-coming Afghan Air Force officers. Having joined the military to become a pilot, Curt never thought he would be training Afghan lieutenants, let alone living with them.

Royal Air Force Flt. Lt. Dean Curt, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Operations, instructs Afghan Air Force Airmen studying at the “Thunder Lab”

Working at the Afghan Air Force Thunder Lab, Flight Lieutenant Curt applied his efforts to immerse officers in a program designed to improve the English, aviation and professional skills while officers await pilot training.

The 25-year-old from Warlingham, Surrey, having served just 42 months in the RAF, summed up his experience.

“My post here was director of operations. This meant when the lieutenants were not being taught at the Kabul English Language Training Center, I would teach them conversational English and vocabulary, plus subjects relating to aviation such as mathematics, science and meteorology,” he said’

To read the rest of this article from the American 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, click HERE

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