Government approval for RAF Honington, near Thetford

RAF Honington was held up as an example of good practice today (Tuesday) following a visit by the minister of state for armed forces.

Liberal Democrat MP Nick Harvey spent most of the day at the base, near Thetford, which he praised for the speed in which lessons were learnt and the 'cutting edge' technology being used.

The minister spent the morning being breifed on the role of the base, before taking the chance to speak to members of 15 squadron RAF Regiment who had returned from deployment to Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan in March this year.

They briefed him on various pieces of equipment, including a general purpose machine gun and mortar fire, before moving to some of the vehicles used.

Mr Harvey said: 'I came to see what the RAF team needs and to learn more about it's work, which is complex, and a lot of which is at the cutting edge of technology. 'I wanted to pay particular tribute to those who have done their stint in Kandahar. They perform a remarkably important role which sometimes goes uncredited. The focus of their work will be at Bastion now but will remain crucial. 'There are a number of specialist skills here and I have seen lessons learnt being fed back into what they do. I think they're very flight of foot in that sense and the rest of the armed forces could probably learn something from them.'

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The RAF Regiment has been involved in Operation Herrick, the code name under which all British operations in the war in Afghanistan have been conducted, since the UK's initial involvement in 2002.

Since 2006, until May this year, the regiment continuously provided air operations at Kandahar Airfield as part of the International Security Assistance Force until duties were handed over to US Forces as part of the transfer of strategic air operations to Camp Bastion.

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Sqn Ldr Ed Cripps, Officer Commanding 15 Squadron RAF Regiment, praised his men and said: 'The guys have done a really good job. Seeing the Afghan airforce able to take on some of that responsibility was really important and there's a sense of satisfaction at the development amongst the local community and that their standard of learning has increased.

'Today is a good opportunity for the guys to be able to tell their story and for the minister to see the capability and to get that understanding.'

RAF Regiment Force Commander, Group Captain Andy Hall, added: 'It's about recognition of the considerable effort and extent of training we put people through to go into operation.'

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