Picture Gallery: Royal Anglian soldiers complete final RSOI training in Afghanistan
Soldiers from East Anglia have completed the final stage of their training in Afghanistan before heading forward to their bases in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province.
More than 600 troops from the 1st Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment, have arrived in the war-ravaged country during the last month to begin the Vikings' fourth tour of duty there.
Following their arrival at Camp Bastion, the soldiers carried out the final stage of six-months of specific training for their current mission, Op Herrick 16.
The RSOI (Reception, Staging, Onward movement and Integration) training is provided by the Operational and Training Advisory Group (OPTAG) to ensure all troops have the most up-to-date tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) at their disposal.
It also provides soldiers with the latest intelligence updates and allows time for acclimatisation to help the body adapt to the desert heat.
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The Officer Commanding A (Norfolk) Company, Maj Matt Woodeson, 37, from Norwich, said: 'The RSOI package is excellent, the acclimatisation it gives you and the updated TTPs are all really good and the ability to undertake more training as a company group if desired has been excellent.
'I've majored on extra ground sign awareness and shooting for the boys – that's life-saving skills and drills that you can't do in the UK – you can't get a 600m ground-sign awareness lane that's in the environment you'll be working in, with the most up-to-date Colour Sergeant Instructor from OPTAG.'
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Among the soldiers carrying out the training was Cpl Tom Mann, 25, from Downham Market, who has already served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He said: 'RSOI has been eight days as opposed to my one day on Herrick 6 (in 2007) – it's focused on putting the emphasis onto the Afghan National Security Forces and has been a brilliant training package, with key skills like ground sign and cultural awareness during the day, giving you time to acclimatise, and then in the evening you have time to re-sort your kit and equipment if you need to.'
The Vikings' commanding officer Lt Col Mick Aston said: 'We are very well prepared for this, our fourth operational tour of Afghanistan. It is remarkable to see the progress that has been made since the last time we were here in 2010. Our focus now is very much on handing over security responsibility to our Afghan partners.'