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News Article

Light Dragoons gear up for Afghan deployment

22 Sep 06

Members of the Light Dragoons who are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan next month have been undergoing five months of intensive training which culminated in a march along the north Norfolk coast.

The Light Dragoons get some last minute pre-deployment training.[Picture: Andy Cargill] . Opens in a new window.

The Light Dragoons get some last minute pre-deployment training
[Picture: Andy Cargill]

The march along the beautiful coastline was part of C Squadron's combat fitness test in which they had to carry 30lb (13.6kg)  Bergen bags on their backs. The training has also included the honing of individual and team skills, a range package (training on the range) and courses on patrols and observation posts.

The Squadron will be based at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan. Their deployment on Operation Herrick will add to existing military contributions from the UK and 35 other nations as part of a NATO drive to make the area secure for reconstruction work.

Commenting on the training, Captain Will Jelf, Second in Command of the Squadron, said:

"We wanted to take advantage of the wonderful scenery we have here on our doorstep whilst boosting our fitness levels at the same time. We had an enjoyable but exhausting day."

As a Formation Reconnaissance Regiment, the Light Dragoons are the eyes and ears of the Army. Equipped with Scimitar reconnaissance vehicles which are fast, highly manoeuvrable and armed with a 30mm cannon, they scout ahead of the main body for information and secure routes. On the squadron's role in Afghanistan, Captain Jelf added:

"We are confident and ready for the tasks that lie ahead. We will be the backbone of any convoy, giving gunfire support from the front and back. Our role will be to support the UK Task Force as it continues to provide a stable environment to help rebuild the country."

The Dragoons trek through the sand dunes as part of their combat fitness test . Opens in a new window.

The Dragoons trek through the sand dunes as part of their combat fitness test
[Picture: Andy Cargill]

The Light Dragoons, who recruit from the North East, are known as 'England's Northern Cavalry'. It has been a busy period for C Squadron, who returned from Iraq in November 2005 where they trained and mentored the Department of Border Enforcement situated along the western Iraqi border as well as maintaining security in the area.

For Trooper Jed Armstrong, 18, this will be his first operational tour having joined the Army two years ago. He said:

"I'm looking forward to it. It will be a new experience. I've enjoyed the fitness test. You didn't really think about how far you were walking when you could enjoy the scenery along the way."

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Angus Watson added:

"The squadron face a tough task in Afghanistan, but they have completed the necessary training and are confident and ready for the challenges ahead."