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UK Military Prepare For Large Afghan Deployment

Ministry Of Defence (UK)

British Military prepare for Afghan deployment in one of UK's largest ever tri-service exercises

Up to 5,800 troops of 3 Commando Brigade (Royal Marines), supported by 200 vehicles and 20 fast jets, aircraft and helicopters, are training on Salisbury Plain in one of the largest tri-service exercises of its kind to be held in the UK.

The Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX), which began on 21 July, is a prelude to the deployment of 3 Commando Brigade (Royal Marines) to Afghanistan in the autumn. The exercise is based upon operational conditions likely to be encountered in Afghanistan and is due to continue until 1 August. It is designed to test the sailors, marines, soldiers, and airmen at individual and command level, using realistic scenarios such as close air support by using fast jets and attack helicopters. A small number of Afghan military personnel are participating in the exercise to add realism and to further promote the close co-operation that exists between the two countries.

The overall aim of the exercise is to test the command and control structures of the Brigade and is the culmination of intense sub-unit training designed to shape all the service personnel into one effective military organisation.

Commander-in Chief-Fleet, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, who will be visiting the exercise this week to see for himself the preparations being made, said:

"I am proud that the Royal Navy supports operations around the world, and this deployment represents the largest Royal Naval Services contribution to land operations for many years.''

The Army has been in the forefront of operations in Afghanistan since 2001 and will provide about half of the total manpower to 3 Commando Brigade's deployment.

General Sir David Richards, Commander-in-Chief Land Forces and a former Commander in Afghanistan, said:

"I am very proud of what soldiers on operations in Afghanistan have achieved since we first deployed there seven years ago. As a Commando gunner myself, I am especially delighted that so many soldiers under my command will have the opportunity to work with 3 Commando Brigade (Royal Marines) in Afghanistan later this year."

The Royal Air Force is providing heavy lift helicopters and tactical transportation aircraft to the exercise which in part mirrors their vital contributions to operations in Afghanistan.

Commander 3 Commando Brigade, Brigadier Buster Howes RM said:

"The mission for the Brigade will be to defeat the insurgents through the employment of both Military and non-military means. The successful completion of the Mission Rehearsal Exercise is essential if the Brigade is to meet the challenge of this deployment and be fully prepared to face the changing nature of operations in Helmand Province."

NOTE

This is the second deployment of 3 Commando Brigade to Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Client ref 177/2008
COI ref 163998P

ENDS

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