A Scottish regiment's soldiers newly-arrived in Afghanistan are already hard at work building relationships with their Afghan National Army counterparts in Helmand province.
Delta Company of 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 SCOTS) is part of the Brigade Advisory Group whose job it is to mentor and advise the Afghan Army.
Captain Simon Hamilton is attached to 1 SCOTS from 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (1 LANCS) and has been travelling to checkpoints to meet with Afghan commanders.
It’s remarkable how the more we work and socialise with the Afghan soldiers and officers we realise how similar we are. They are fighting for their country to improve security for their families, as are we.
Captain Hamilton and his 1 SCOTS colleagues discuss everything from equipment to insurgent movements with their Afghan counterparts. They are supporting the Afghan Army to bring stability and improved security for the Afghan people. Often, over a cup of chai (spiced milky tea), these visits also help to build up trust between the UK and Afghan forces:
Building relationships is an important part of any job,” he said.
During the meeting the rest of Captain Hamilton’s soldiers spent time getting to know their counterparts at the checkpoint by drinking chai and taking part in sporting activities including football, boxing and wrestling.
Private Ryan Houston was one of the soldiers who had a boxing match with the Afghans.
It’s a good way to create a relationship and bond whilst still having fun.
Captain Hamilton is keen to see the Afghan Army increasingly take the lead. He said:
As the Afghan Army grow in capability and confidence they are taking the lead for the security of their local areas. The 1 SCOTS mentoring over the next six months is playing an important role in that transition.
Last month 1 SCOTS took command of the Brigade Advisory Group in Camp Bastion from 3rd Battalion The Rifles. The Brigade Advisory Group is responsible for advising the Afghan Army’s 3/215 Brigade which is commanded by Brigadier General Sherin Shah.