21 Mar. 2009
PR# 2009-270

Aussie Gunners lend efforts to British Artillery regiment in Afghanistan

Musa Qal’Eh, Afghanistan -Members of a gunnery team for Charlie Troop 8 ALMA Battery Commando 29 Royal Artillery Regiment (RAR) conduct a firing mission at Patrol Base Silab on March 9, 2009. The 29 RAR, composed of British and Australian gunners, is currently completing it's six month tour and will head back to the U.K. in May. (ISAF Photo)

KABUL, Afghanistan - On a quiet Sunday afternoon, ISAF troops deployed to Patrol Base Silab were hosting visiting Australian Major General Mark Kelly, Joint Task Force 633 Commander. He was visiting Australian gunners that have been serving with the British 8 ALMA Commando Battery 29 Regiment.

Whilst the general was talking to the Aussie gunners, a foot patrol returning from their daily operations, was engaged by local insurgents on the other side of the wall where the main operating center is located.

The small engagement was neutralized in a matter of minutes when gunners were posted to their L118 Light Guns resulting in zero casualties and offering Kelly a chance to see first hand how the integration of a handful of Australian gunners into the 29 Commando has resulted in a myriad of successful operations throughout their near six-month deployment.

“It’s fantastic how they all worked together,” Kelly said. “It’s why we sent them out here. I’m proud that I was able to see them in action because it’s important to see what training and cooperation can do to bring about a successful operation.”

Not since Vietnam have the artillery gunners from the Royal Australian Army yielded their powerful weapons in a conflict abroad.

Musa Qal’Eh, Afghanistan -Members of a gunnery team for Charlie Troop 8 ALMA Battery Commando 29 Royal Artillery Regiment (RAR) conduct a firing mission at Patrol Base Silab on March 9, 2009. The 29 RAR, composed of British and Australian gunners, is currently completing it's six month tour and will head back to the U.K. in May. (ISAF Photo)

But all that changed last October when a handful of soldiers from the 4th Field Regiment Royal Australian Artillery operating out of Townsville, Australia were integrated 29 Commando.

Split between Charlie and Delta troops of the 29 Royal Commando, 12 Aussie gunners operating at PB Silab and Forward Operating Base Edinburgh have been taking part in key Southern Afghanistan operations, including the clearing of Nad-e Ali during Operation SOND CHARA in early January.

“This level of participation shows the international community that we must all do our part especially here in Afghanistan where we are working to secure a great future for the Afghan people,” Kelly said.

At PB Silab where Charlie troop operates, the Aussie gunners work not only with their British counterparts at the 29 Royal Commando, but also with members of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment and most importantly a small contingent of Afghan National Army soldiers who are currently being mentored and trained in the field.

Australian Lt. Chris Lingard echoed Kelly’s sentiments about the cooperation between commands and nations that have garnered their success in the last six months.

“We came out here knowing that our mission was going to be grueling because peace just doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “But we all worked together and in good spirits which I hope can be used as an example for the Afghan Army. It’s been a rewarding deployment and we have some good experience to take back home.”

The gunners will return to the United Kingdom with the 29 Royal Commando early next month after which they will return to Townsville. They’ll be replaced by the 40 Royal Commando, which is scheduled to arrive and begin the turnover process before month’s end.

“It’s never been dull,” said Sgt. Simon Hastings, one of five Aussie gunners deployed to FOB Edinburgh. “Overall, I looked at this deployment as an opportunity to do something rewarding by helping a troubled group of people get on their feet. We aren’t there yet, but I imagine we will be so as long as we continue to support the Afghan military as they continue to do more of their own operations.”

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
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