On the march to Afghanistan

Sgt Lee Clarkson 34 from Layton.

Sgt Lee Clarkson 34 from Layton.

  • by Rebecca Draper

A TEAM of Fylde coast soldiers have been gearing up for their next tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Servicemen from 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, based at Weeton Barracks, are preparing to leave for the war-stricken country in the next month.

And to make sure they are well prepared for action, they have spent the last week undergoing a series of training drills at 
Westdown Camp in Tilshead, Salisbury.

Around 100 soldiers from the barracks have been getting to grips with the hi-tech equipment, including vehicles and weapons, as well as the techniques they will use to support soldiers of the Afghan National Army during their six-month tour.

Sgt Lee Clarkson, from Layton, said: “Our mission is to make sure that when it’s our time to pull out, the Afghanistan army will be able to carry on their mission to secure the country and make it a more stable environment.

“Obviously if anything goes wrong we will be there to offer them assistance, but we are just there to let them lead.

“It’s their time now.”

Sgt Clarkson, 34, has already served in Afghanistan – in 2006.

He added: “I am very excited to go. I like to get away.”

Kingsman Daniel Richardson, from Blackpool, has been based at Weeton for the past eight months.

The 25-year-old said: “This training is not so much hard, as just testing.

“We’re sleeping in tents when it’s minus four degrees and you can hear them doing drills outside.

“But we’re not new to this training, and it’s realistic to give us a good idea of what to expect.

“It’s been hard on the physical side, but I have enjoyed it.”

The recent attack by insurgents on a police post in Afghanistan left 11 officers and six others dead.

The Taliban said they carried out the attack, in the central-eastern province of Ghazni, and shows there are very real challenges to face in Afghanistan.

Kingsman Richardson said the drills done as part of training covered ground operations, reacting to indirect fire and casualties to visiting local villagers and speaking with the Afghan leader.

This tour will be Kingsman Richardson’s first one abroad.

He said: “You hear different things from different people, but I’m excited about going out, taking each day as it comes and finding out for myself what it’s like to serve abroad.

“I think everyone’s looking forward to it.

“There are a lot of people like me who haven’t been before, and we all just want to get out there.”

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