TAs as good as the regular army

A BAND of Ipswich soldiers about to be deployed to Iraq are ready for the biggest challenge of their lives, the colonel in charge of them said today.

Grant Sherlock

A BAND of Ipswich soldiers about to be deployed to Iraq are ready for the biggest challenge of their lives, the colonel in charge of them said today.

Lieutenant Colonel Dave Tyler told The Evening Star of his pride that the 13 Ipswich Territorial Army soldiers had proved their worth in the army.

Col Tyler, the commanding officer of 158 (Royal Anglian) Transport Regiment, said: “I am immensely impressed. I couldn't be prouder of how well they've integrated.

“I've had praise about every individual.”

Col Tyler's comments came on the day he observed the troops as they underwent the final stages of their training in Germany.

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He took the small group of 158 soldiers aside from their regular army colleagues in the 2 Logistic Support Regiment (2LSR) and wished them well for their tour in Iraq.

He told them to keep safe, to keep in touch with their families and said they were doing their home town proud.

Col Tyler and the regiment's Major Stuart Bruce travelled to Hohenfels in Bavaria to see the TA troops as they underwent their toughest training yet before being deployed to Iraq.

Col Tyler said they were now indistinguishable from the full-time regular army soldiers who at one time

outstripped them in terms of fitness and combat readiness.

“For me, as the commanding officer, the thing that makes me very proud is they have been integrated into 2LSR.

“Every officer I have spoken to has said how well they are doing.

“I think it's a fantastic example of the contribution the TA can make to the regulars.

“It takes pressure off the regulars. The regulars also appreciate the fact these guys have volunteered to come out here.

“The TA soldier may not have the same military experience as a regular but he brings other experience.”

Some amongst the TA soldiers preparing for Iraq are teachers and telecommunications engineers.

Others are builders, boat builders and even supermarket shelf stackers.

It is their life experience which is seen as an added advantage in helping them deal with the pressures of a war zone.

Col Tyler also said he had witnessed an esprit de corps among the Ipswich TA group which led to them looking out for each other as they prepare to embark on an at-times nerve-wracking objective.

“They all look after each other,” he said.

“They maintain a fantastic sense of morale and enthusiasm.”

And Major Bruce added his praise to that of the colonel. He said: “The people from Ipswich are doing really well.

“I'm really, really pleased. They've learned so much.

“We're really proud of our guys. They've got a job to do and they've trained for that job.

“They're ambassadors for our country and if they do a good job it's good for Britain.”