On Saturday 9 April, 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines took command of Task Force Helmand in Afghanistan, officially marking the start of Operation HERRICK 14.
In a short ceremony at the headquarters of Task Force Helmand in Lashkar Gah, Brigadier James Chiswell, Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, formally handed over to Brigadier Ed Davis RM, Commander of 3 Commando Brigade.
Over the next six months, 3 Commando Brigade will look to build upon the achievements made by 16 Air Assault Brigade since they arrived in Helmand in October 2010.
Brigadier Chiswell said it had been a significant tour:
We have continued to strengthen relations with our Afghan partners in the army, police and Helmand provincial government. This has enabled us, alongside our ISAF coalition partners, to build up their capacity to provide security and protect the local people from the insurgents.
Alongside the Provincial Reconstruction Team, we have continued to stabilise insecure areas, and the men and women of 16 Air Assault Brigade - some of who have made the ultimate sacrifice - and their families can be proud of the immense contribution they have made to improve the lives of the Afghan people.
Brigadier Davis said:
Over the last six months, Brigadier Chiswell and 16 Air Assault Brigade have made tangible progress throughout their area of operations. Our main objective is to continue to build on their success and move closer to setting the conditions for the transfer of security authority from ISAF to the Afghan National Army and Police.
We appreciate it is no easy task. There will continue to be tough fighting this summer as we consolidate gains and help facilitate the spread of governance to more towns and villages. However, I am confident that our excellent training has prepared us for the challenge that lies ahead.
The transfer of authority ceremony was also attended by the head of the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team, Michael O’Neill, and the Commander of Regional Command (South West), Major General John A Toolan Jr.
Six-and-a-half-thousand personnel from the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force make up Task Force Helmand (TFH) and 3 Commando Brigade will be the lead formation in TFH until October 2011.