20 Mar. 2009
PR# 2009-264

29 Royal Artillery Regiment prepares to head home after six-month deployment

KABUL, Afghanistan - British Captain Adrian Ford, Officer in Charge of Delta Troop, Battery Commando 29 Royal Artillery Regiment (RAR) at Forward Operating Base Edinburgh in Southern Afghanistan, took on a leadership role during his second Middle Eastern deployment.

“It’s a huge responsibility,” he said. “Our operations are triple checked and if we’re slightly off, it can result in a casualty and that could mean bringing a massive blow to our efforts, especially here in Afghanistan, where the battle is to win hearts and minds of the people.”

Ford said the last six months in Afghanistan have been gruelling, but spirits remain high as the 29 RAR heads for home early next month. They’ll soon see their replacements from the 40 RAR arrive where they will begin the turnover process before returning to Portsmouth.

“I’d say the only challenge we’ve had with this particular assignment is that we were a bit disjointed from what was going on outside of the FOB,” Ford explained. “The gunnery operations that occur here are operations from a static position. Only when we rotate out to places like the local Roshan Tower, do the guys see and interact with the local people. That’s very important because soldiers have to know why they’re here.”

Gunner Ryan Donahue, a world kick-boxing champion and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter, said he knew why he chose to temporarily put aside professional matches to serve his country in Afghanistan.

“It’s not easy being in the military, but it’s important,” he explained. “After six months, we can go home and say we were part of something bigger. It hasn’t been easy by any means, but the rewards in the end are what matters and that’s contributing to the peace process.”

In all, the 29 RAR is composed of four troops each deployed to a different FOB or patrol base in the southern regions of the country.

Delta and Charlie troops at FOB Edinburgh and Patrol Base Silab, respectively, had specially integrated Australian gunners from the 4th Field Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery out of Townsville, Australia. Ford attributed their integration as a key aspect to the string of successful missions over the last six months including operations SOND CHARA in Nad-e Ali and HERRICK in Musa Qal-eh.

“They brought a lot of enthusiasm to the troop,” Ford said. “The international relationships between nations are an example we can give to Afghan military forces to show that cooperation is key to winning any kind of conflict.”

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