Royal Engineers honoured for their work in Afghanistan

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

Royal Engineers who have been helping to build a more secure Afghanistan have received their richly deserved 'Herrick' campaign medals at Chetwynd Barracks in Nottinghamshire.

The soldiers from 67 Works Group Royal Engineers marched onto the parade square in front of proud family and friends to receive their medals from their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Brian Williams.

Whilst in Afghanistan the engineers were based in Camp Bastion and forward operating bases across Helmand province. A team also worked closely with the UK Government’s Provincial Reconstruction Team based at Lashkar Gah.

It has been a busy tour for the 58-strong team as they developed the road network, supported the repairs and maintenance of the canals and irrigation systems and helped to deliver reconstruction projects.

One of the projects the team was heavily involved in was the design of the Malvern Crossing - a logistic support bridge constructed to establish a crossing over the Nahr-e Bughra canal. The longest single-span crossing built by military engineers since the Second World War, the bridge took just two weeks to build, though this followed nearly two months of preparation to move the required parts and resources to the site.

The bridge has greatly increased the freedom of movement for the local Afghan population, allowing them to move their produce to the local markets and greater access to the goods and services offered by the Government of Afghanistan.

The team also project-managed the completion of the 279,375-square-metre runway area at Camp Bastion, which saw approximately 21,500 aircraft land on it during their six-month tour. This is in addition to completing 222 infrastructure projects, including managing the building of 112km of road.

The roads are opening up the area so that smaller villages have access to the bigger towns and markets. Their asphalt surfaces also make it difficult for insurgents to lay explosive devices, making it safer for troops to travel around the area.

Other projects have included the repair of 3km of canal embankment within Helmand and the rehabilitation of 31 canal structures, such as weirs and sluice gates.

Lieutenant Colonel Williams said:

We can look back on a very successful and productive tour in which the unit has provided a significant contribution to the success of the UK’s mission in Afghanistan.

The unit has been responsible for the detailed design, planning and subsequent delivery of the Malvern Crossing and has also enhanced and maintained the working and living accommodation and infrastructure which supports UK forces in Afghanistan.

But, more so, the unit has been responsible for the development and maintenance of Afghan infrastructure, including the canals and waterways, roads and bridges and power systems within Helmand province.

We are a small unit and it has been an extremely challenging and busy six-month tour that has seen the unit punch considerably above its weight.

From a personal point of view it has been very rewarding to lead a team of highly qualified individuals in the construction of buildings and facilities that make a difference to the everyday lives of both the Afghan people and military personnel.

67 Works Group Royal Engineers is one of five Groups that together form 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group whose role is to provide a civil, force protection, mechanical and electrical engineering capability to the Armed Forces. 64 Works Group Royal Engineers has now replaced 67 Works Group Royal Engineers in Afghanistan.