16 Air Assault Brigade formally took over as the lead formation of Task Force Helmand from 4th Mechanized Brigade yesterday, Sunday 10 October 2010.
To mark the change, which signifies the start of Operation HERRICK 13, a ‘friendship feast’ was held at the headquarters of the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Lashkar Gah, which was attended by Afghan and British dignitaries.
The occasion also marked the departure of the outgoing PRT head, Lindy Cameron.
The event was attended by the Governor of Helmand province, Gulab Mangal, the Deputy Commander of 3/215 Brigade of the Afghan National Army, Colonel Amin Jhan, and the Helmand Chief of Police.
A number of commanders from ISAF headquarters, Regional Command (South), Regional Command (South West) and the American-led Task Force Leatherneck were also in attendance.
After enjoying a locally-produced Afghan meal together, gifts were exchanged and speeches made emphasising the very close relationships and friendships that have developed between 4th Mechanized Brigade, the Afghan institutions they have been partnering and the Afghan authorities.
Over the six-month period of Operation HERRICK 12, troops from 4th Mechanized Brigade have made significant progress in four key areas: extension of governance, freedom of movement, expanding the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces and disrupting the insurgency.
The achievements will now be built upon by 16 Air Assault Brigade units as they work towards the objective of beginning the handover of security responsibilities to Afghan forces during 2011.
Brigadier Richard Felton, Commander of 4th Mechanized Brigade, said:
The friendship feast was the final opportunity for us to say goodbye to our friends and colleagues within the Helmand provincial government, the Afghan security forces and the Provincial Reconstruction Team.
The partnership and friendship that we have enjoyed with our Afghan counterparts has been exceptional throughout our time here and the hard work and effort that they have put into improving the lives of the people of Helmand has been outstanding.
Without their enthusiasm, determination and willingness to work together, the progress made during the HERRICK 12 deployment would have been unachievable. These relationships will hopefully provide the ideal basis for 16 Air Assault Brigade’s tour and will allow them to continue with the progress already made.
Brigadier James Chiswell, Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, who now takes command of Task Force Helmand, said:
The feast was an ideal opportunity for us to meet the senior figures that we will be living and working with during our deployment. 4th Mechanized Brigade have done a sterling job over the past six months and it is clear that they have made demonstrable progress both in terms of our relationship with the Afghan community and in the security of Helmand. We are very much looking forward to working with our Afghan partners to continue this excellent work.
Gulab Mangal, the Governor of Helmand province, said:
I’m proud to say that together, we as one team have achieved greatly improved security, governance and law and order in Helmand province. I would like to thank Brigadier Felton from the bottom of my heart for the great job he and his brigade have done in Helmand province.
Security in Afghanistan and the region means security in the UK - we have a common enemy to defeat and I honour 4 Brigade for all they have done to defeat that enemy.
Sadly, you have lost many brave men here for the safety of others. I am deeply saddened when I hear of the loss of soldiers and I share the pain of families who have lost their beloved ones. They will be remembered as heroes who fought to liberate others and protect Britain’s security for our children and grandchildren.