Norfolk soldier describes 'eye-opening' security mission in Afghanistan
PUBLISHED: 08:52 02 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:52 02 August 2019
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A Norfolk lieutenant has described the "eye-opening" experience of touring Afghanistan with his regiment.
Soldiers from the East of England's 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian regiment were presented with campaign medals following tours of duty in the Middle East and South Sudan at their battalion headquarters in Woolwich, London, on Thursday, August 1.
Speaking after the parade, which also marked the 260th anniversary of the Battle of Minden, celebrated by the regiment every year, one soldier from north Norfolk described the tour on Operation TORAL, offering stabilty and protection as part of the Kabul Security Force (KSF) as "rewarding", "eye-opening" and "different".
Lt Joshua Beale, from West Runton, said: "We were driving around in Foxhound armoured vehicles taking VIPs around Kabul, for just shy of six months.
"Our role was protection - my team and myself would plan and we would pick someone up, whether it was a general or someone who they arranged to meet, and take them to a location and make sure that meeting could go ahead."
The 27-year-old added: "It was eye-opening. The terrain is absolutely amazing and the mountain ranges are stunning.
"The poverty of the city really takes you aback. You get there thinking everything and everyone could be a problem and you realise people are just going to the market and it's like daily life in the UK."
Lt Beale said the tour was a "rewarding" experience and added: "When we first got out there, there were places that weren't open at all but over time they opened up.
"It's very rare that the lower ranks like corporal get as much responsibilty in terms of mission command as they do out in Afghanistan.
"It was completely different out there with a much smaller team - I really got to know them and plan stuff at a detailed level.
"From the intense training we undergo, you're really prepared and on guard for something to happen, but you have to be fluid and normal in the role."
The 280 soldiers, known as 'guardian angels', deployed on Operation TORAL were in Kabul from September 2018 to April 2019.
Soldiers from the regiment also took part in a training exercise with the Finnish military.
They were presented with campaign medals from the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Anglian Regiment, His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester.