The 1st Battalion Welsh Guards (1 WG) recently took over responsibility for the Police Mentoring and Advisory Group in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, from 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.
For the next seven months, HQ Company of 1 WG will be training new Afghan police recruits at the training centre in Lashkar Gah while the remainder of the battalion, supported by members of the Light Dragoons and the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment, will be advising and mentoring police on the ground as Police Advisory Teams.
This will be the second tour of Afghanistan for many of the Guardsmen. In 2009, the battalion was involved in sustained and ferocious fighting in Helmand province, the area that they now occupy as police mentors.
Lieutenant Colonel Dino Bossi, Commanding Officer of 1 WG, said his battalion had trained hard for the tour and the Guardsmen were looking forward to the challenges of the task ahead:
It is the Afghan National Police who will secure the future of the Afghan people. Each day, by their courage, fortitude and resilience, more and more progress is made towards a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
It is my great honour to be given the task of assisting the Afghan National Police in this heroic endeavour. Together, shoulder by shoulder, we will go forward ever more confidently towards a better future.
Sergeant David Lewis, aged 30, from Port Talbot, is an instructor at the Lashkar Gah Training Centre. As a member of HQ Company he is responsible for the delivery of training to the Afghan National Police. He said:
The Lashkar Gah Training Centre is a real success story, with over 200 members of the Afghan National Police graduating every eight weeks.
As one of the instructors responsible for training the Afghan National Police [ANP] it is very satisfying to have helped develop the policemen and women who attend the course. You can see the satisfaction and confidence grow in each individual.
Sergeant Lewis was a vehicle commander when the battalion was first deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. Speaking about the differences between the tours he said:
The security situation here has improved a lot. In 2009 it was very kinetic. We were constantly finding improvised explosive devices and getting engaged in fire fights but we are simply not seeing that here anymore. This is down to the increased ANP presence and the vast improvement in their capability.
As well as working with the ANP, two further companies from 1 WG will be operating as ground-holding companies to allow for the setting in place of governance and development which is inherent to the strategy in Afghanistan.
The Prince of Wales’s Company (known as ‘The Jam Boys’) is attached to 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment based in Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (South), and 3 Company is attached to 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment based in Combined Force Nad ‘Ali (South).
While the soldiers are on tour, a fundraising effort is in progress to raise money for the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal, which was set up by the regiment itself to help the soldiers and their families who are suffering as a result of operations.
The hope is to raise £50,000 by Remembrance Sunday this year and a CD/digital download called ‘Tell My Father’ has been launched by Welsh baritone Mark Llewelyn Evans (brother of tenor Wynne known as ‘Gio Compario’) to help raise money for the fund.
Mark Llewelyn Evans stepped forward after he was approached by the Welsh Guards who had heard him singing ‘Tell My Father’. A successful soloist, Mark has performed in musicals and operas as well as with Katherine Jenkins for the Welsh Rugby Union. Last year he was asked by Guy Ritchie to appear in the new Sherlock Holmes film ‘A Game of Shadows’.
The CD/digital download also features the Band of the Welsh Guards, Llantrisant Male Choir and renowned Welsh actor Richard Elfyn.
The Guards’ Colonel and patron, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, said in support of the fund:
It is vital that those Welsh Guardsmen who have given so much to this country and their regiment know that they and their dependants will be cared for and supported should the need arise.
The Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal will play a key role in providing this support in the short and the long term as the wider regimental family plays its part. I commend the Appeal and ask all those who can to support its admirable work.
‘Tell My Father/Men of Harlech’ by the Band of the Welsh Guards featuring Mark Llewelyn Evans is available to purchase now as a CD or digital download from major online music stores and retailers.