This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
Sappers from 22 Engineer Regiment have repaired a key bridge in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand province.
The Basharan bridge, which was first built in 2010, crosses the Chah-e Anjir wadi and links local communities in the Basharan and Babaji areas.
The bridge allows farmers from Babaji to move their produce to markets in Lashkar Gah, and makes moving between the economic hubs of Lashkar Gah and Gereshk more efficient. More locally, the bridge also makes it easier for children to attend school in Basharan.
The bridge had been damaged by an improvised explosive device laid by insurgents earlier this year. The sappers, from 5 Squadron of 22 Engineer Regiment, mounted a 2-day operation to fix the bridge permanently so it can remain in place.
Captain George Andrews said:
My troop worked hard on the task, despite the heat, and we could all see what it meant to the local people as a small crowd had gathered by the time we had done.
Lieutenant Colonel Jason Kerr, Commanding Officer of 22 Engineer Regiment, said:
It was very satisfying to repair the Basharan bridge which is used regularly by locals in the area. The engineers have been busy this tour not only reinforcing existing British bases across Helmand but also removing some as our profile across the province has reduced.
It’s a real indicator of progress when we close or handover a base – it shows the Afghans just don’t need us there anymore.
Security for Lashkar Gah district has been provided by the local Afghan police since transitioning from UK forces in 2011. Lance Corporal Nick Stearn, from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, served in the area in 2011. Speaking about the differences between then and now, he said:
On my last tour we were constantly engaged in fire fights around the area and the district centre was usually deserted. Now it feels secure and the streets are busy, with markets flourishing.
The UK currently has approximately 7,900 Service personnel in Afghanistan, reducing to 5,200 by the end of 2013. The majority of British Service personnel are based in Helmand province.