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Praise For UK Troops Rebuilding Afghanistan

Ministry Of Defence (UK)

Chief of the Defence Staff praises UK troops working to rebuild Afghanistan

The Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, flew in to Southern Afghanistan yesterday to see at first hand the progress British Forces are making and to get an update from the senior commanders in Helmand Province.

His first port of call was at the UK military base at Lashkar Gar for a meeting with the commander of British Forces in Helmand, Brigadier Andrew Mackay of 52 Infantry Brigade. The Brigade, which is two months into its tour, is opening up new areas to reconstruction and Afghanistan's democratic government.

Air Chief Marshal Stirrup praised the work of British troops, saying:

"Our people are doing a vital job - and doing it superbly. They take the fight to the Taleban and defeat them consistently. This is necessary; but all recognize that such military activity is not an end in itself. It is designed to create opportunities for progress on governance and development - ways that improve the lives of the ordinary Afghan. So I am delighted with the work of our Civilian and Military Cooperation teams; their efforts demonstrate clearly to the Afghan people that we and our Allies are in this for the long term."

Air Chief Marshal Stirrup met with UK Forces' Civilian and Military Cooperation teams (CIMIC) and the UK government's Provincial Reconstruction Team to check their progress in engaging with the local population and building essential services in Helmand. The CIMIC teams, made up of Danish and UK service personnel, work closely with local people in deciding how Nato Forces can make their lives better. It enables Major Simon Cook and his team to plan projects that are focused on the needs of the local area as seen through Afghan eyes. The Provincial Reconstruction Team, under the leadership of David Slinn, also makes a key contribution to humanitarian efforts, working closely with Non-Governmental Organizations. These projects include building roads, schools, hospitals and water towers; all demonstrating Nato's commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan.

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Air Chief Marshal Stirrup's next stop was at Camp Bastion where he met medics working at our state of the art field hospital. Built by British troops in the middle of the Afghan desert, Camp Bastion's field hospital has the equipment and expert staff to provide excellent care. It has everything a modern hospital needs; including intensive care beds that provide detailed monitoring and life support for seriously injured soldiers. Speaking afterwards, Air Chief Marshal Stirrup praised medical staff's work and the facilities in Helmand:

"Our people in Afghanistan undertake dangerous tasks in very difficult conditions, and they deserve the very best support. Bastion's field hospital is world class and the combination of its staff's expertise and excellent equipment has been and continues to be responsible for saving so many of our servicemen and women's lives. Our doctors, nurses and medics know the importance of their task, and I am enormously proud of their superb performance."

A pilot himself, Air Chief Marshal Stirrup took the chance to talk to Apache Helicopter crews and see their much praised aircraft. He also met soldiers who operate Camp Bastion's Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles. The Warrior is a workhorse for troops in the arduous environment of Helmand Province.

During his trip to Helmand, Air Chief Marshal Stirrup also had meetings with senior Nato commanders and UK officials before flying on for the next leg of his visit to Afghanistan.


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