Soldiers' boost for war-torn country

SOLDIERS from Woodbridge serving in Afghanistan today spoke of their “critical” involvement in a massive operation to improve the quality of life for people in the embattled country.

SOLDIERS from Woodbridge serving in Afghanistan today spoke of their “critical” involvement in a massive operation to improve the quality of life for people in the embattled country.

The 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault), based at Rock Barracks, created a makeshift road under constant threats of Taliban insurgency so a hydro-electric turbine could be delivered safely to a dam.

Lieutenant Jim Atkinson was part of a squadron which carried out reconnaissance and secured enemy positions ahead of the convoy - and they even found time for a swim before the main operation began.

He said: “Our first tasks were to make the compounds defendable and then liveable. This involved clearing areas for sentry positions and the glamorous job of building toilets.

“Before D-Day for the operation, the company commanders allowed platoons to return to our base for a dip in a dam.

“I have to say this was absolutely amazing, taking our minds completely out of Afghanistan for a few minutes at least.”

Most Read

The Engineers also played a crucial role in minesweeping and smoothing a road along the 180km route to the Kajaki Dam.

Lt Atkinson said: “By the end of the operation, the regiment had located and destroyed more than 25 enemy bunkers, cleared more than 50 compounds and used a substantial amount of explosives.

“With the third turbine delivered to the dam, it won't be long before the people of Afghanistan are seeing the real benefits.”

Around 2,000 British troops in southern Afghanistan took part in the convoy, codenamed “Eagle's Summit”, on a dangerous 360-kilometre round trip.

One British soldier was injured during the 12-day mission when he was run over by a vehicle, however, most of the British forces had returned safely to their bases in Helmand Province by last Saturday.

The dam and turbine will eventually provide a far more extensive electricity network in the region.

Lieutenant Colonel Dave Wilson, commanding officer of 23 Engineers, said: “The regiment was absolutely critical to the operation. Two months in the planning and two weeks in execution, this was a fantastic piece of determined teamwork.”

Are you proud of the regiment's efforts in Afghanistan? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.