Ross Kemp returns to Helmand

Members of Whiskey Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines, and the Afghan Uniform Police at the handover of Checkpoint Meelet, Nad 'Ali (South)

‘Ross Kemp: Back On The Frontline’ starts on Sky1 at 2100hrs GMT tonight 14th November 2011.

Expressing firm opinions on why the Taliban should be given air time he adds:

“There is no way that the solution to Afghanistan will come at the end of a rifle. It will come through negotiations and undoubtedly the Taliban have to be involved, so the sooner we start listening to what they believe, what they want, the sooner we will hopefully come to a settlement. They weren’t clich├ęs. They have beards and they wear black turbans but they are all individuals.”

Kemp also believes that no-one should be thinking about trying to turn Afghanistan into a completely democracy-embracing country:

“They are Afghans and they live the Afghan way. It will never be the same as ours, and why should it be? But it would be a heck of a waste of time and life if we leave that country and things haven’t improved. But I’m hoping and praying that they will.”

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Military Operations | Ross Kemp returns to Helmand.

Rory Stewart: Afghanistan is not a threat to us?

In this talk for TED the Tory MP Rory Stewart attacks all of the arguments for staying in Afghanistan. It’s time to end the war, he says.

Well worth listening to. His destruction of the “This year is decisive” approach in Afghanistan is both entertaining but in many ways an extremely sad reflection on the poor progress we have made in Afghanistan.

Soldier shot in Afghanistan as MoD names two

Always and Forever

Sadly I missed the announcements on Friday of the deaths of two further British Soldiers in Afghanistan. And then today we have the further sad news of the death of a third soldier. The BBC has this:

A British soldier from 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment has been killed in Afghanistan, the MoD has said.

The announcement came shortly after two other soldiers, who died in separate incidents on Thursday, were named as Corporal Lloyd Newell and Craftsman Andrew Found.

The latest casualty was killed on Saturday when he was shot on patrol. His next-of-kin have been informed.

The total number of service personnel killed in Afghanistan stands at 374.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lt Col Tim Purbrick, said the soldier who was killed on Saturday was part of the protective cordon guarding a meeting between the Afghan National Army and people who had recently reoccupied the Haji Tor Aga Kalay area in the Nahr-e Saraj District.

He said insurgents with “engaged them with small arms fire during which he was fatally wounded. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

On the deaths of the soldiers on Friday the BBC has this

Craftsman Andrew Found (l) and Corporal Lloyd Newell were killed on the same day in Afghanistan

Corporal Lloyd Newell, a member of the Parachute Regiment, was killed by small arms fire in Helmand Province on Thursday.

Craftsman Andrew Found, 27, from Whitby, Yorkshire, was a member of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, he died in an explosion while trying to rescue a vehicle.

‘Man of integrity’

Cpl Newell was married with a nine-week-old daughter. The MoD said it would not be releasing details of his age or where he was from “because of the nature of his work”.

An MoD spokesman said the paratrooper “was a man of integrity and principle”.

“He was a natural and talented soldier who loved his work and the military lifestyle.

“He personified the great British Paratrooper – selfless, humble, cheerful and utterly reliable. He did his duty, relishing discomfort as a personal test, and always acting in the greater interests of the team.”

‘Laughter and love’

Craftsman Andrew Found, of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, serving with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, was killed by a bomb in the Gereshk Valley area of Helmand.

A father-of-two, his wife Samantha said: “You’re my husband, my best friend and are my world. I cannot explain my pain and the hole you have left in all our lives.

“You are the best husband anyone could have wished for; a great dad, friend and you have touched the hearts of many in your life.

“You loved your job, your family and friends and always loved a good joke. You always made me smile. I will love you always and forever. You were my rock and my hero and always will be. I love you so much.”

The couple had a son, Jaxson. Craftsman Found also had another son, Michael, from a previous relationship.

His parents Jennifer and Alan Found, and his brother Simon, said: “Even though we are all in pain now, we will remember the fun, the laughter and all the love he brought to all the people he knew and loved.”

Another sad week for our Armed Forces in Afghanistan. My thoughts are with all the families and friends of the three soldiers.

BBC News – Soldier shot in Afghanistan as MoD names two.

Two further deaths in Helmand Province

Always and Forever

Sadly over the weekend there were two further deaths in Afghanistan.

Royal Marine killed in Helmand province

It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that a Royal Marine from 42 Commando Royal Marines was killed in Afghanistan today, Sunday 5 June 2011.

The Royal Marine was fatally wounded by small arms fire while on a joint patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj (South) district of Helmand province.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick, said:

“It is with great sadness that I have to announce the death of a Royal Marine from 42 Commando Royal Marines.

“He was on a joint patrol to meet local people and to disrupt insurgent activity in the Adensee area of Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand province when he was fatally wounded by small arms fire this morning.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Next of kin have been informed and have requested a period of grace before further details are released.

Soldier from 1 RIFLES killed in Helmand

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that a soldier from 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES) was killed in Afghanistan yesterday, Sunday 5 June 2011.

The soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device while on a patrol in the Haji Kareen area of the Nahr-e Saraj (South) district of Helmand province.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick, said:

“It is with great sadness that I have to inform you of the death of a soldier from 1st Battalion The Rifles in the Haji Kareen area of the Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand province.

“The soldier was part of a foot patrol, supporting an Afghan National Security Forces operation to clear one of the last remaining insurgent safe havens in central Helmand, when he was fatally wounded by an improvised explosive device.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Next of kin have been informed and have requested a period of grace before further details are released.

My thoughts are with the families and friends of the two soldiers at this sad time.

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Military Operations | Royal Marine killed in Helmand province.

‘Perfect’ Highland soldier killed on patrol in Afghanistan is named

Corporal Michael John Pike
Corporal Michael John Pike

Sad to report that the soldier killed on Friday 3rd June was from Huntly in Aberdeenshire.

Father-of-two Corporal Michael John Pike, 26, of 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, died on Friday. His commanding officer described him as

“the perfect example of a Highland soldier- loyal and fiercely courageous”.

He added

“The loss of Corporal Mike Pike has been felt deeply by all ranks of the Battalion. He was an enormously popular, charismatic and engaging character; a natural leader in every way. As a junior commander he was entirely dedicated to his soldiers, leading from the front with every step and they would follow him anywhere.

“A natural practical joker, his innate sense of fun was a constant source of amusement and relief for the whole Platoon. He was marked out by his constant wry smile whether leading his company from the front at PT or pushing his section on when under pressure; simply unflappable.

“As one of the brightest stars in the Battalion, he had already been earmarked for having potential for the very highest promotion. Whether as a commander or as a friend he was the perfect role model.

“As a soldier, he was one of the most professional I have known, and he was the very epitome of a Highland soldier: fierce in battle, compassionate to all and unswervingly loyal to his friends – a code he lived by to the very end.

“Our thoughts and prayers are entirely for his family, and especially Ida, Joshua and Evelynn in Germany; above all else he was a deeply loving and caring family man. His loss has left a hole in the Battalion, in his company and especially his platoon. However, I have a strong suspicion that he would not want us to dwell on his loss, I suspect that he would simply put his kit on, make a joke about it and carry on in the same dedicated, professional manner.”

My thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.

BBC News – ‘Perfect’ Highland soldier killed on patrol in Afghanistan is named.”

UK soldier killed on patrol in Afghanistan

Always and Forever

The BBC reports on the death of a Scottish soldier in Afghanistan.

A UK soldier has been killed while on a security patrol in Afghanistan.

The soldier was from The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland and died on Friday.

The soldier came under fire from rifles and rocket propelled grenades in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand province. Next of kin have been informed.

This latest death brings the number of British military deaths in operations in Afghanistan since 2001 to 369.

Army spokesman Lt Col Tim Purbrick said the soldier was on patrol with the Afghan National Police when his unit was attacked.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,” he said.

My thoughts are with his family and friends on this sad day.

BBC News – UK soldier killed on patrol in Afghanistan.

Two Royal Marines killed in Helmand

 

Always and Forever

Sadly it seems that Afghanistan has taken a further toll on our Forces. The MOD reports:

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that two Royal Marines from 42 Commando Royal Marines were killed in Afghanistan yesterday, Friday 27 May 2011.

The Marines were killed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) while on a joint Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operation to clear parts of the Loy Mandeh area of the Nad-e Ali (North) District of Helmand Province.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Major Rolf Kurth, said:

“It is my sad duty to inform you of the death of two Royal Marines from 42 Commando Royal Marines in the Loy Mandeh area of the Nad-e Ali District of Helmand Province.

“The two Royal Marines were on patrol, disrupting insurgent activity when they were killed by an explosion caused by an IED. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends in their time of grief.”

Next of kin have been informed and have asked for a period of grace before further details are released.

My thoughts are with their family and friends at this sad time.

I had hoped it would be a while before I had to blog about the deaths of our Armed Forces in Afghanistan but sadly it seems not. I can only hope it will be a while before I have to again.

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Military Operations | Two Royal Marines killed in Helmand.

A year on…

Always and Forever

I last posted on this Blog a year ago today, no particular reason for stopping apart from a lack of time and a degree of staleness after the election.

Sadly during this time some 79 Armed Forces personnel have lost their lives in Afghanistan. A terrible toll that we must all hope comes to an end soon.

Also we are now involved in the war in Libya. Let us hope the situation there comes to a peaceful end as soon as possible

BBC News – Data breakdown: UK fatalities in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Another Royal Marine killed in Helmand

Always and Forever

The MOD reports that another Royal Marine from 40 Commando has been killed in Sangin, Afghanistan.

The MOD has this:

It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that a Royal Marine from 40 Commando Royal Marines serving as part of Combined Forces Sangin, Helmand was killed in Afghanistan yesterday, Wednesday 26 May 2010.

The Royal Marine was killed in an explosion. He was conducting a ground domination foot patrol through the Southern Green Zone in order to reassure local nationals and understand their concerns about living in the area when the incident took place.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith, said:

“It is my sad duty to inform you that a marine from 40 Commando Royal Marines was killed by an explosion in Sangin last night.

“He was conducting a reassurance foot patrol in the Green Zone around Sangin when tragically he was struck by an explosion.

“His boldness and commitment to the mission will not be forgotten. He died a marine; he will be sorely missed and we will remember him.”

Next of kin have been informed and have asked for a period of grace before further details are released.

My thoughts are with his family and friends on this sad day.

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Military Operations | Royal Marine killed in Helmand.

Soldier from 4th Regiment Royal Artillery killed in Afghanistan

Always and Forever

Sadly news of the death of a further Soldier in Afghanistan has been announced today by the MOD:

It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that a soldier from 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, serving as part of Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (South), was killed in Helmand today, Wednesday 26 May 2010.

The soldier died from a gunshot wound sustained during a small arms fire engagement with insurgent forces in the Nahr-e Saraj area of Helmand this morning.

He was conducting a joint foot patrol with the Afghan National Army, in order to reassure the local population following insurgent intimidation, when the incident took place.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith, said:

“It is with great sadness I must inform you that a soldier from 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, part of 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles Battle Group, was killed this morning in Nahr-e Saraj (South).

“He was conducting a joint foot patrol with the Afghan National Army when he was killed by small arms fire. He died doing his duty, alongside his mates, whilst seeking to reassure the local population and counter insurgent intimidation.

“He will be greatly missed and we will always remember him.”

Next of kin have been informed and have asked for a period of grace before further details are released.

My thoughts are with his family and friends on this sad day.

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Military Operations | Soldier from 4th Regiment Royal Artillery killed in Afghanistan.