SOUTH Yorkshire soldiers in the Light Dragoons tank regiment are helping to pave the way for withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan by training the country’s own police force.
The regiment’s proud history is as a reconnaissance unit, its vehicles providing up to date information about conditions on the ground for infantry as well as being a deterrent, but dozens of its members are now working in a mentoring role.
Despite continuing incidents of Taliban members infiltrating Afghan police and army, the Light Dragoons - one of three British Army units recruiting heavily from Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster which are currently in the war zone - are confident.
Spokesman Lieutenant Jamie Harle said: “This is all about transition. The Afghans we have spoken to are really proud of what they are doing - they want to return security to their family and friends.
“We were undertaking screening tasks in the desert, identifying areas of population and routes, while providing a visible deterrent. It was very successful but the main effort has switched for us.
“We are now focusing on expanding the mentoring side so the locals can look after these routes and population centres themselves.”
Other members of A squadron are continuing with their formation reconnaissance day job. Their brief has seen them providing overwatch for ground forces, pushing forward on scouting missions and playing a key role in identifying enemy positions.
Members of the Light Dragoons are currently stationed at bases across Helmand Province.
They are joined in the area of Afghanistan by soldiers from Third Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment and Third Battalion The Rifles.
The units’ deployment comes to an end in autumn.