A BRECHIN soldier is among the deployment from the 1st Battalion Scots Guards which has flown to Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick 17.
Almost 100 soldiers from the Scottish regiment have now left their base in North Yorkshire and headed for a six-month operational tour.
Captain Simon Ramsay, 31, is on his first tour in Afghanistan but served in Iraq during 2008.
Speaking just before he left the battalion’s home at Bourlon Lines, Munster Barracks, Catterick Garrison, Simon said: “Our training has been really good. We’ve been on various exercises where we have been able to work through the problems we might face on tour.”
The servicemen and women are part of 4 Mechanised Brigade which will take over responsibility for Task Force Helmand in October.
The roulement tour will see The Black Rats working in support of the Afghan Army’s 3/215 Brigade and all elements of the Afghan National Police in their mission to bring security and stability to a region that has known years of unrest.
The Brigade was last in charge in the province back in 2010 when it suffered heavy casualties. Simon, who will work as a Signals Officer in a Forward Operating Base, will miss his girlfriend Krissy, but said he is looking forward to the deployment.
“I suppose there is always an anticipation of the unknown but that is exciting and is why I joined the Army,” Simon continued.
“What we’re doing out there is very important and I want to play my part in it.”
With combat operations planned to finish at the end of 2014 the emphasis of the tour is transition with the various units within the Brigade mentoring their Afghan colleagues so that they can plan and run their own operations.
It is also expected that the Brigade Commander, Brigadier Bob Bruce, will become the first British commander to be able to send troops home with a total of 500 returning before Christmas.
4th Mechanised Brigade has a proud history having been formed in the deserts of North Africa at the start of the Second World War. They fought in a series of major tank battles, including El Alamein, under the command of the original Desert Rats. It was at this time that Brigade troops adopted the Jerboa or ‘Black Rat’ emblem that they continue to wear as their insignia today. The Black Rats were subsequently involved in the Invasion of Sicily and fighting in Italy before taking part in the Battle of Normandy and the advance through Belgium, Holland and into Germany.
More recently, the Brigade took part in the First Gulf War and completed a number of tours to the Balkans during the 1990s. The Black Rats have since deployed twice to Iraq and once before to Afghanistan for Operation Herrick 12 in 2010.
4th Mechanised Brigade contains many historic regiments. The Queen’s Royal Lancers and The Royal Dragoon Guards are the cavalry units in the Brigade; the infantry units deploying with the Brigade to Afghanistan include 1st Battalion Scots Guards, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (The Royal Scots Borderers), 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) and 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles.