Alasdair marches back to warzone

AFTER six years in retirement a former sergeant major-turned-Ipswich councillor is preparing to go back to the front line.Alasdair Ross, ward councillor for Rushmere, spent 24 years with the infantry regiment, Royal Green Jackets, serving on the frontline in various battle zones such as Northern Ireland and Kosovo.

AFTER six years in retirement a former sergeant major-turned-Ipswich councillor is preparing to go back to the front line.

Alasdair Ross, ward councillor for Rushmere, spent 24 years with the infantry regiment, Royal Green Jackets, serving on the frontline in various battle zones such as Northern Ireland and Kosovo.

Now he's preparing to see action at the sharp end in the troublespots of Afghanistan . . . at the age of 46.

When he retired at the age of 40, he moved back to Ipswich where he got a job at Ipswich School coaching sports and then joined the Labour party, before being elected as a ward councillor this year.

Now he has got a call to return to the frontline, with the possibility of heading off on a tour of duty to Afghanistan with his old regiment early next year.

Mr Ross, of Lonsdale Road, said: “I never thought I would be called up again. I have done my full time.

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“I was asked if I was interested in coming back and feel it is my duty. I believe we are doing a good job in Afghanistan. My first consideration was my wife and two children that will be left behind because they are the most important things.

“Then I had to consider my constituents. I am hoping that I will be able to remain on the council and use some of the skills and experiences from my time away to their benefit.”

During his time in the army, which he joined at the tender age of 16, he acquired skills in intelligence and reconnaissance and it is these that have stood him apart and prompted army chiefs to call him out of retirement.

He is expecting to be right in the front line when he does head off to Afghanistan next year.

Mr Ross is set to return to his former regiment, now known as the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, based in County Down, Northern Ireland, and undertake a three-month training course to get him up to speed with any changes while refreshing his skills.

Once someone leaves the army, they are placed on a reserves list and can be called on up until the age of 40. After this time, it is more unusual to be 'mobilised' but this depends on what skills are needed in various conflicts. The individual has the right to refuse.

Mr Ross, who also runs Ipswich School's cadet force, added: “They are after certain skills and trades to aid operations. I have got some skills that will be beneficial.

“I am not going into this gung-ho. I realise people have been killed but I think it is the right thing to do because I'm sure we can improve the lives of thousands of Afghans.”

Technically a councillor must attend at least one meeting in six months but Mr Ross will be asking the council for a special exemption so that he can return to his duties next November.

Are you embarking on a life changing step? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

The Royal Green Jackets was an infantry regiment of the British Army formed in 1966

The Rifles was formed on 1 February 2007 by the amalgamation of the four light infantry and rifle regiments of the light division, including the Royal Green Jackets

The 2nd Battalion The Rifles have had recent deployments in Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland, and Iraq

The Rifles march at 140 paces per minute, much faster than that of the rest of the infantry that march at 120.

The Rifles maintains a single regular regimental band, the Band and Bugles of The Rifles

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