In a short transfer of authority ceremony, in front of sailors, soldiers, airmen and civilians, outgoing Commander Joint Force Support (Afghanistan), Air Commodore John Bessell, handed over to Brigadier Martin Moore. The handover marks the start of another crucial chapter in the UK’s military drawdown in Afghanistan.
Brigadier Moore is taking command of the seventeenth rotation of Joint Force Support, which works in parallel with Task Force Helmand to provide logistical and technical support for UK Armed Forces across Afghanistan.
The span of responsibility of the headquarters is vast, ranging from personnel policy and logistics to infrastructure, training and commercial support.
As well as providing specialist expertise, Joint Force Support commands a range of force elements comprising thousands of military personnel, UK civil servants and military-supported contractors.
One of the key tasks of the staff has been the co-ordination of redeployment, which involves recovering aircraft, vehicles, weapons and surveillance equipment back to the UK in good order.
Speaking after the weekend handover, Air Commodore Bessell reflected on the successes of his 6-month tenure. A mark of the progress is that a third of the materiel has been returned home safely.
More than 1,300 vehicles and items of major equipment and the equivalent of 1,800 shipping containers of materiel have been redeployed from Afghanistan.
Air Commodore Bessell said:
Redeployment is a challenging problem, but resourceful people have made redeployment a reality.
In our time we have made a significant inroad into redeploying the future of the British military’s protected mobility fleet.
At the same time we have redeployed the Merlin helicopter and seen the C-17 aircraft come of age in delivering the fly and sail of equipment to the UK.
Brigadier Moore said:
This marks the change of the core of the headquarters, but it doesn’t change the direction of travel for Joint Force Support (Afghanistan).
The next 6 months will be crucial in positioning Operation Herrick for the conclusion of the campaign. The main focus will be sustaining current and future operations in order to see transition through into 2014.
In the margins, we will strive to build on the outstanding work of our predecessors to energise the redeployment effort so that the UK, working side-by-side with Regional Command (South West), can recover from Helmand on time and in good order.