Soldier ready to deploy

MORE than 150 Woodbridge-based soldiers are currently on deployment in Afghanistan, with others set to be sent to the Balkans.Their commitments have led to the Freedom of Woodbridge parade for 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault), planned for September 15, being postponed.

MORE than 150 Woodbridge-based soldiers are currently on deployment in Afghanistan, with others set to be sent to the Balkans.

Their commitments have led to the Freedom of Woodbridge parade for 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault), planned for September 15, being postponed.

The soldiers moved into Rock barracks at Woodbridge Airfield last month. However, only a few of the regiment would have been left to take part in the parade due to their deployments.

A new operational commitment has now put 40 soldiers on standby to go the Balkans to provide specialist engineering support to troops.

The regiment is part of Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade, the army's foremost rapid response fighting brigade, which is currently in Afghanistan. More than 170 sappers from 23 Engineering Regiment are with them.

The regiment is unique within the British army because of its specialist airborne engineering role and a large portion of the 600-strong regiment is already deployed across the world.

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Lt. Colonel Ian Hutchison, commanding officer of 23 Engineer Regiment, said: “It is with deep regret that the Freedom of Woodbridge parade has had to be postponed. This decision was not taken lightly and is entirely due to the level of commitments that the regiment is currently undertaking. The regiment is very keen to get to know our neighbours and it is extremely important to us to become part of the community.

“We didn't want to mark our arrival in a half-hearted fashion, and only having a small number of troops would not have done justice to the occasion or the people of the town. However, we still plan to hold a parade when our operational commitments allow.”

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