Monday, October 26, 2009
4 RIFLES CO reflects on OP HERRICK 10
Lt Col Rupert Jones
CO 4 RIFLES
AS THE Election Support Force elements of 4 RIFLES prepare to fly home, and A Company start their Afghanistan commitment, we can reflect on a period of achievement and uncertainty.
The Riflemen operated in the Nad e-Ali District in the extreme south of the UK area of operations in Helmand Province. ISAF moved into the area for the first time late last year, so it is still in the early stages of development and the insurgent threat remains high. The Riflemen faced a constant and debilitating threat from Improvised Explosive Devices and operated, in the main, in austere locations living a very basic existence.
B Company operated very much alone, working through the difficult summer to keep the insurgents at bay and protect the ISAF push into Babaji to their north. Progress was deliberate and steady, but in the last month a number of local national families who had moved into the desert for security have started returning home.
While there are many reasons for their return, they would not have done so if they did not feel that the security situation was improving. This is a legacy that the Riflemen can be proud of - small steps, but ultimately it is the local population who will decide the success of this campaign and it is they who are the real judges of security and progress.
These are early days in Nad e-Ali District, but the Riflemen have set the area up for further development.
As ever, our return will be tinged with sadness for those who are not with us and their families - LCpl Taran Cheeseman who tragically died of cancer early in the tour and Rifleman Daniel Hume killed in July. We all look forward to seeing our seriously injured brother Riflemen, for whom life will never be the same. Our homecoming in Bulford will bring a mixture of joy, pride, relief and sadness, but the Riflemen know that with the support of our families that they have done a great job.