Personnel from 111 Provost Company, 1st Regiment Royal Military Police (1 RMP), have been presented with their campaign medals after returning from a demanding six-month tour in Afghanistan.
During their deployment, 111 Provost Company provided a vital military policing role in support of the NATO-led mission to prepare the Afghans to fully take over the security of their own country.
Often based on the front line in Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) and checkpoints, the military police provided a range of specialist policing and security support across Helmand province between March and October.
They were primarily involved in working with and training members of the Afghan National Police (ANP) force, investigating possible insurgent activity, apprehending and guarding suspected insurgents, partnering members of the Afghan National Army (ANA), and also taking on an infantry role - going on patrols and manning sangars (guard watchtowers).
The medals were presented at a special ceremony at 111 Provost Company’s barracks in Bergen Hohne in northern Germany.
Lance Corporal Darren Mason, who was based in Lashkar Gah at the Afghan National Police Training Centre, said:
I worked with the Afghan police almost every day of the tour. When I went out there I have to admit I didn’t really know what to expect from the Afghan police, but they were better than I thought they would be. They want to improve, I had a mixture of new recruits and experienced policemen.
I had to help refine their skills focussing on personal safety, self-defence and weapons handling.
They were at quite a reasonable standard when we first saw them - we taught them quite a good range of skills including intelligence gathering, speaking to the locals and how to carry out an investigation, - it was a hard but rewarding job.
111 Provost Company are part of 7th Armoured Brigade, better known as the Desert Rats, which supported 3 Commando Brigade during the tour. They were instrumental in helping to ensure that the ANP and ANA will be ready to fully take over the security of Helmand by 2015.
LCpl Mason, who joined the Army in 2009, added:
We would take the Afghan police out on patrols regularly and supervise them as they searched vehicles, and spoke to locals, safety was paramount - they want what’s good for their country.
It was a good tour but hard work - we would sometimes work 14 hours a day, but you could see things improving. I am glad and very proud to receive my medal and am looking forward to enjoying my leave and seeing my family and friends and also doing some snowboarding.
The ceremony also included a parade which was watched by families and attended by the Provost Marshal (Army), Brigadier Eddie Forster-Knight, who presented soldiers with their medals.
Addressing the soldiers during the ceremony, Brig Forster-Knight said:
I am delighted to be here in person to welcome you back from Afghanistan from what has been a very demanding tour.
I have seen Afghanistan change tremendously over the last three years. There has been consolidated change on the ground to improve the security of Afghanistan. That has been carried out by British forces and other forces. I am really proud of what you have all helped achieve there.
I would like to thank you all for what you have done. I’d also like to thank those who trained you and those families who have supported these young men and women who have truly excelled on operations. Your support is vital.