Two Fylde coast Army reservists spent Reserves Day training for their forthcoming six month challenge in Cyprus working for the UN’s peacekeeping force.
Each year the nation celebrates the service of its military reservists on Reserve Day, but Kingsman Thomas Looker and Lance Corporal Caley Carroll were too busy preparing to deploy to Cyprus on Operation TOSCA.
Both men will be patrolling, maintaining a stable peaceful environment along the borders and will be on the lookout and reporting any infringements or changes from the day-to-day norm.
Kingsman Thomas, 27, will be one of 250 Reservists and regular soldiers deployed on the Army Reserve-led British contribution to the United Nations peacekeeping force. 4 LANCS, a light role infantry Reserve battalion from the North West, supported by their paired Regular unit 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (2 LANCS) take over from 36 Engineer Regiment which is currently deployed in Cyprus. This will be his first military deployment as he only finished his training in July.
In his civilian role, Kingsman Thomas works for a hotel chain in office-based inventory management, something very different from the role he will be conducting in Cyprus.
He said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the patrol and public order training that has taken place in preparation for my deployment, it’s not like the normal training we get.
“This will be my first operational tour and although I will be away for Christmas and will miss my family, I am really excited and looking forward to the experience.
“We will have the opportunity to try new things and gain more experiences in life - for example I have put my name down to try scuba diving during the Adventure Training week in Cyprus – I am really looking forward to it.”
L Cpl Caley is with the 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (4 LANCS), a light role infantry Reserve battalion.
Since he joined the regiment 10 years ago, he has deployed to Afghanistan on Op Herrick 13 and been on exercise in France and Kenya.
He has spent the last two weeks with his fellow troops at Longmoor Camp in Hampshire completing his United Nations mission validation training, which includes Company-level public order training, patrols and incident management exercises. His initial training began in May and this is the first time the units have all come together as a Battlegroup.
In civilian life, he recruits for his regiment, so the role he will be conducting in Cyprus will be very different.
He said: “I joined the Territorial Army as it was formerly when I was studying for my A-levels.
“A lad in one of my classes was already a member and I thought it would be a good taster to see if I wanted a military career.
“I thought it would be good experience and I would be able to continue my education.
“As it turned out I didn’t join the regulars as I found the Reserves offered me everything.
“It was more professional than I expected and it has lived up to my expectations and beyond.
“I never had an interest in medicine before I joined the Reserves but I was given the opportunity to go on a Combat Medical Technician Class 3 course.
“ I have become an instructor for the military assessments teaching my soldiers everything from resuscitation to how to put on a tourniquet.”
Op TOSCA is the name given to the British contribution to the UNFICYP – the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus – one of the longest-running United Nations missions.
It was set up in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island and bring about a return to normal conditions.
Since a de facto ceasefire in August 1974, UNFICYP has supervised the ceasefire lines; provided humanitarian assistance; and maintained a buffer zone between the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot forces in the north and the Greek Cypriot forces in the south.