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Hundreds of Oxfordshire troops to face new tour of duty
HUNDREDS of Army and RAF personnel from Oxfordshire will be sent out to Afghanistan in April, it was announced yesterday.
They will include about 300 troops from 3 Logistic Support Regiment, based in Abingdon, and members of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, based in Didcot.
Joining them will be 15 members of 23 Pioneer Regiment, based in Bicester, which will be disbanded in 2015.
Heather Wood, whose husband Warrant Officer Class 2 Charles Wood, of 23 Pioneer Regiment, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, said: “It shows the professionalism and commitment to their country and the job that they’re going out to Afghanistan despite redundancies and the regiment being disbanded.
“If this was Civvy Street I’m sure a lot of employees would not proceed and do their job if they were facing redundancies, but there’s something unique about British soldiers – they strive on and do their job.”
She added: “It’s not just the six months deployment for the families, it’s all the training beforehand as well.
“You don’t see your loved ones for about 12 months.
“To go through all that, not knowing what the outcome is with redundancies and if they will even come back, is very uncertain and unsettling for families.
“But that’s what Army families do. You just get on with it.”
Lindsey Roberts, widow of Cpl Andrew Roberts from 23 Pioneer, said: “It’s difficult knowing that in 18 months they will not have a regiment.
“But they still have a job to do.
“If they didn’t, 23 Pioneer would not be needed to go to Afghanistan now.”
Cpl Roberts, 32, and Private Ratu Silibaravi, 31, died when a mortar bomb exploded in their base in Helmand province last year.
It was announced in July last year that the 600-strong 23 Pioneer Regiment, based in Bicester in some form since 1941, will be disbanded by October 2015.
The Government made the announcement as part of plans to cut the number of regiments as the army reduces in size to 82,000 personnel.
In 2011, the Ministry of Defence announced that the Army would be reduced by 19,000 personnel and, in 2010, the RAF and Navy would be reduced by 5,000 each.
But the Government said personnel preparing for, serving on or recovering from operations will not lose their jobs unless they have applied for redundancy.
The army announced last night that Oxfordshire personnel from 7th Battalion The Rifles, 15th Signal Regiment (Information Support), 29 Postal Courier and Movement Control Regiment and 2 Military Intelligence (Exploitation) would also be deployed in April.
RAF Brize Norton personnel from 47, 30, 216, 99 and 33 (Engineering) squadrons, 1 Air Mobility Wing and Tactical Medical Wing, along with about 120 RAF Benson personnel from 28 and 78 Squadrons will join them.
WAR ON TERROR
The UK’s military role in Afghanistan since 2001 has brought with it a heavy human toll. Members of the Army, RAF, Royal Marines and special forces have lost their lives in the fight against the Taliban.
The number of deaths stands at 440 after Kingsman David Shaw, from 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, died on January 16 in hospital from wounds suffered in combat in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand province two days earlier.
British troops and Nato forces are due to withdraw from the region next year, handing security to Afghan forces.