Soldiers prepare to take on the Taliban

Afghanistan could be their toughest military tour yet, but they are ready to take on the Taliban.That was the verdict of soldiers from the Light Dragoons at Robertson Barracks at Swanton Morley as they prepared for their latest deployment.

Afghanistan could be their toughest military tour yet, but they are ready to take on the Taliban.

That was the verdict of soldiers from the Light Dragoons at Robertson Barracks at Swanton Morley as they prepared for their latest deployment.

On Tuesday, March 13 at their final service at the barracks before leaving for Helmand Province, the soldiers reflected on the challenges ahead.

They were given wooden crosses during the service - a gift from local churches to give them strength in dangerous times and remind them that people back home are thinking of them.

In the coming weeks 170 Light Dragoons from A, B, D and HQ squadrons will begin to take over there from the regiment's C Squadron.

The soldiers' mission will include disrupting the Taliban and providing reassurance and support to the Afghan government.

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“I cannot wait to get out there but this is possibly our hardest tour yet,” said Corporal Keith Bell, 29, from the B Squadron and who served in Bosnia in 2000 and Iraq in 2003 and 2005.

The 29-year-old father-of-two added: “I feel a lot more apprehensive than on previous trips.

“Soldiers from our C Squadron have said it is harder in Afghanistan. It seems to be a more capable enemy which is getting better trained all the time. They delve a lot deeper.”

Sgt Grant Armstrong, 33, said: “We have good camaraderie and we are a good force but we haven't faced before what we will face in Afghanistan before. Hopefully the training will see us through. Only time will tell.”

Commanding officer Lt Col Angus Watson said: “The over-riding emotion for the regiment is excitement about what we are going to undertake. But military operations are risky and so that excitement is combined with apprehension - and leaving friends and families behind for six months is never easy. But we are well prepared and we will deliver what we are being asked to do.

“The nature of the tasks that we will be engaged in is different from Iraq and there is likely to be more fighting.”