Soldier trains in Canada for Afghanistan.

IPSWICH: A soldier from the town is today being put through his paces on a gruelling exercise in Canada to prepare him for deployment to Afghanistan.

Army mechanic Craftsman Robin Wilkins, 20, is on a three-month training mission with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, taking part in mock patrols, counter-insurgency tasks and dealing with civilians played by actors.

Called operation Prairie Thunder, Mr Wilkins has had to deal with the vast plains of Alberta – which has seen him battle through a number of storms.

Mr Wilkins, a former Royal Hospital School student, said: “We are supporting the Battle Group for vehicles that have gone down – we have our work cut out.

“It can be a hard job and very tough especially with the terrain, water and a few weeks ago, snow, that these weapons have been dragged through. The bad weather means loads of work.”

They are using advance technology to prepare them for battle, which simulates live gun, artillery and tank fire to demonstrate real-life situations.

“The weather is unbelievable,” he said. “We have experienced all the seasons. It started snowing, then came the sun, and then rain and wind.”

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But it’s not all been warfare and harsh weather. The lads have been encouraged to use their leave to experience what Canada has to offer – including white water rafting, rock climbing and horse riding.

Mr Wilkins, from Ipswich, also recently took a trip to Calgary.

“The people there are so friendly. It’s great getting to see some of Canada and getting to know their culture.”

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