News story

Army chief visits troops in Afghanistan

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The head of the British Army has visited UK Service personnel working in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.

General Sir Peter Wall travelled to Lashkar Gah, where he visited the Headquarters of Task Force Helmand and spoke with the Commander of British Forces in Helmand, Brigadier Rupert Jones, who updated him on the role of his troops in support of Afghan security forces.

General Wall also met with the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s Head of Mission, Catriona Laing, to discuss how civilian and military colleagues are working together to ensure Helmand’s progress in governance, development and the rule of law are maintained beyond the drawdown of UK forces from the region.

General Wall then travelled to the Lashkar Gah Training Centre (LTC) where he was briefed by the Commanding Officer of the Police Mentoring and Advisory Group (PMAG), Lieutenant Colonel Robin Lindsay.

General Wall talks with Brigadier Rupert Jones
General Wall talks with the Commander Task Force Helmand, Brigadier Rupert Jones, at Lashkar Gah [Picture: Corporal Si Longworth, Crown copyright]

The PMAG, formed from 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS), works directly with the Afghan police who will provide enduring security across Helmand.

While at the LTC, General Wall viewed new recruits of the Afghan National Police conducting training to counter the threat of improvised explosive devices.

Lieutenant Colonel Lindsay said:

The Laskar Gah Training Centre is a centre of police excellence and a reflection of the institutional and tactical progress that the Afghan Police have made over the last 4 years.

The standards here are high and the quality of graduates illustrates the increasing professionalism of the police. These policemen and women represent the future for Helmand’s security, so to see their enthusiasm to serve their local communities is really encouraging.

General Wall then flew to the main British operating base in Helmand, Camp Bastion, where he visited the Brigade Advisory Group (BAG), made up of 4th Battalion The Rifles (4 RIFLES), under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Tom Bewick.

The BAG advises the Afghan National Army’s 3/215 Brigade, and General Wall took the opportunity to watch Afghan soldiers conduct mortar training in the adjacent Afghan Camp Shorabak.

General Wall has supper with a group of soldiers
General Wall has supper with a group of soldiers [Picture: Corporal Si Longworth, Crown copyright]

Before leaving Camp Bastion, General Wall visited the Headquarters of Joint Force Support (Afghanistan) where he was briefed by the commander, Air Commodore John Bessell. He then conducted a tour of the various sites on camp involved in the redeployment of military equipment back to the UK – a process that is well underway since it began in October 2012.

General Wall said:

It’s invaluable to come and get an assessment from those on the ground of the progress we’re making, the issues we are having to confront as the campaign evolves, and also to see what sort of shape our people are in.

This was also a great opportunity to see for myself the quality of the training that the Afghan Police and Army are undertaking and I have been impressed by both their professionalism and confidence.

The change between what I found at Christmas time during my last visit and the current situation is quite remarkable.