Gallery: RAF Marham holds media day as Squadron 31 set to embark on last trip to Afghanistan
- Credit: IAN BURT
Airmen from RAF Marham are preparing to embark on their final tour of duty of Afghanistan as Britain gets ready to pull out its troops after 13 years of sacrifice and heroism.
RAF Marham 31 Squadron will be the last Tornado Squadron to be deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick. The Tornado Squadron first went to Afghanistan in 2009 and this will be their fifth trip.
Wng Cdr Rich Yates said: 'A lot has changed since 2009. When we first went over there was a lot of contact between the army and insurgents but today Afghanistan is a more stable country. They are in a much better place today in terms of equipment, security and training than what they were five years ago.
'When we go out there now, we are very much running shoulder to shoulder with them.'
Squadron pre-deployment training commander Mike Bracken added: 'At first Afghanistan was very much an alien and dangerous environment to step out into.
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'But since then we have gradually stepped back on power in several patrol bases where there were problems in the past. It has now got to the point where we can tell the people of Afghanistan, 'it is your country', and they are in a better place to look after themselves.'
RAF Marham 31 Squadron has been taking part in a week long exercise in preperation for its final tour of duty to Afghanistan.
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The exercises are designed to expose them to the tempo of operations and to potential events and incidents that they may face during their forthcoming deployment.
Yesterday, the squadron took part in an exercise where their base was attacked by rocket fire and had to rush out to save a civillian.
Wng Cdr Rich Yates added:'We've putting them through a range of incidents which they may face from enemy action to first aid, day to day flying operations in the Tornados to carry out reconaissance.
'The exercises are so realistic they replicate exactly what can be expected in Kandahar.
'The other thing that comes from this training exercise is that for those who haven't been deployed before, it gives them a real introduction to what they can expect when they are deployed.'