Soldier prepares for Afghan tour

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A 24-YEAR-OLD soldier, who is preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, says the deaths of six troops last week brought home the realities of war.

Trooper Thomas Doyle, of 1st Battalion Royal Tank Regiment - part of the 12 Mechanized Brigade, will join about 200 comrades for a six month tour of duty in the volatile state.

They are due to take over from 20th Armoured Brigade as the lead formation of British troops in Helmand province next month.

The father-of-one, who has lived in Bury for four years and is based at RAF Honington, will drive a heavily armoured Mastiff patrol transport vehicle.

He previously served in Afghanistan in 2009/10.

Asked how he feels about the upcoming mission following his last tour of duty, Tpr Doyle said: “I feel a lot better about it as I have more experience. I just want to get the job done and then have a nice holiday with my girlfriend (Sophie Branston) and baby girl (Rosie, aged three months).”

Last week, the horrors of war hit the headlines once again after six soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb destroyed their armoured vehicle in Helmand Province.

Have the tragic events made him anxious about returning to the conflict strewn country?

“Not really. Unfortunately we’re used to things like that happening. We’re upset about it. When you see stuff like that it just makes us more aware and brings back the reality of what we face.”

During the tour, he will support the 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment.

The 12 Mechanized Brigade’s objectives include preparing the Afghan army and police forces to take responsibility for the security of Afghanistan.

The brigade will also assist the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in suppressing the insurgency, enabling them to strengthen the security lead in the areas which have already moved to Afghan security control.

Brigade Commander, Brigadier Doug Chalmers said: “We will continue to move the focus of our operations from counter insurgency to that of security support assistance.”