Troops due to deploy from their Suffolk base to Afghanistan in little more than a month have begun final training exercises in a bid to prepare them for every eventuality.

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Servicemen from RAF Honington joined colleagues from nearby bases on the Stanford Training Area (Stanta) this week for a variety of scenarios designed to mirror those likely to arise on the front line.

Together with airmen from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire, 15 squadron RAF Regiment will deploy to Camp Bastion for seven months in October.

Operations officer with the squadron, Flight Lieutenant Matt Shutler, who has been to Afghanistan once before, said the final exercises were the culmination of a year’s worth of training.

“They involve a variety of different things,” he said. “It could be patrolling on foot or in a vehicle and dealing with an improvised explosive device, being shot at or dealing with local nationals.

“This part is putting all the bits together and working together as well as testing the squadron. We’ve done quite a bit of training and the guys are all itching to go.

“You get to the stage where everyone’s looking forward to it.

“Each time you go it’s different but it’s never easy.

“It doesn’t really matter how many times you’ve been because the weather is always different and the terrain is different and it’s different people and all of those affect the way you do your job.”

Stanta is designed to replicate army strongholds in Afghanistan as closely as possible with scenarios ranging from discussions between commanding officers and local elders to heavy mortar fire and suicide bombers.

Deputy squadron commander with 15 squadron RAF Regiment, Flight Lieutenant Simon Hamilton, said the tour would be his third time in Afghanistan.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “We’re taking quite a young bunch out there who are desperate to put their skills to practice and they’re excited to show what they can do.

“They should be able to deal with all sorts of things and use their initiative to make sure there are new ways of working and interact with local people because getting local people on-side is one of the ways we can have an effect.”

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