North Devon’s 24 Commando Engineer Regiment pass on their construction skills to the Afghan army

THE Chivenor based troops 24 Commando Engineer Regiment has been busy tackling another crucial aspect of operations in Afghanistan.

It might not always make the headlines, but earthmoving can be just as important to the war effort and the North Devon troops have been teaching Afghan soldiers how to operate the heavy equipment needed to help build infrastructure and roads.

For the past eight weeks the Afghan National Army have been learning how to operate heavy machinery and carry out the tasks required by engineers on operations, part of the ongoing effort to train Afghan armed forces in a variety of skills.

They have attached to the Brigade Advisory Group with the specific task of creating a team of specialist Afghan engineers and a total of 120 soldiers are being trained to form the ANA’s engineering tolay (company.)

Some of the most senior engineers were selected to undergo the plant operating course which involved learning how to operate heavy lifting gear, diggers and trucks.

Major Paul Walters, s Officer Commanding of the engineer training squadron, said there were a number of challenges to overcome:

“When the Warriors first arrived, they had lots of experience of engineering but many of them couldn’t drive,” he explained.

“So we’ve had to go right back to basics. They were eager to learn though and given their inexperience, what they’ve achieved is even more significant.”

After completing their training and passing with flying colours, the Afghan engineers were presented with certificates confirming their achievements in a ceremony at the Afghan National Army’s base, Camp Shorabak.

* THE troops of 24 Commando Engineer Regiment will be marching through the streets of Braunton on Thursday, October 6 in a homecoming parade, with local residents and businesses encouraged their shops and premises to welcome the troops home.

Braunton Parish Council is running a best decorated building or shop front competition and more information is available from the council on (01271) 812131.