Afghan posting for Norfolk soldiers?

The King of Jordan fuelled rumours of an Afghan posting for Norfolk-based troops as he wished them good luck on their forthcoming tour of the region at a medal ceremony at the weekend.

The King of Jordan fuelled rumours of an Afghan posting for Norfolk-based troops as he wished them good luck on their forthcoming tour of the region at a medal ceremony at the weekend.

King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein was at the Light Dragoons' base at Swanton Morley, near Dereham, on Saturday to present medals to soldiers who have recently completed six-months in Iraq.

The royal visitor said in his speech that a squadron from the regiment was set to go to Afghanistan in November, with the rest due to join them in April 2007.

The army were keen to downplay his comments, saying it had yet to be confirmed by the British government, but a source said a squadron could be sent as early as September.

Commanding officer Lt Col Robin Matthews, who led the parade, refused to comment saying he had not heard that part of the king's message, as he was concentrating too much on his parade moves.

The king, colonel-in-chief of the regiment, having served in it in 1981, also thanked the soldiers for their service in Iraq, Jordan's neighbour.

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Dressed in the gleaming uniform of the King's Hussars, now amalgamated as the Light Dragoons, he inspected the 108 soldiers and 10 officers who stood to attention, and marched in the 24-degree heat to the rousing brass tempo of the Light Cavalry Band.

He had arrived at Robertson Barracks by helicopter at around 1.30pm. Amid tight security he was driven onto the temporary parade ground on grass at the barracks in a black Range Rover.

Families of the honoured soldiers and ex-members of the regiment sat in grandstands, looking on proudly as the king presented the men with campaign medals for operation Telic, the name given to the current mission in Iraq.

Army wife Nicola Grahame said she was relieved her husband

Cpl Paul Grahame was no longer in Iraq, saying she had been constantly watching satellite news.

But she said: "Everyone's going through the same thing as you here, so we just live in each others pockets and help each other."

Overall 350 men from the light dragoons were posted in the Al Muthanna region of the country, helping to train the local police and maintain security. Control of the area is set to be handed over to local Iraqi forces on Wednesday.

Not all the men who went to the Middle East were at the ceremony, but all those who were in Iraq received the medal.