Monday, October 12, 2009

Brigadier Tim Radford, Commander of the 19 Light Brigade returns home

Colin Brazier, Sky News presenter: Now the commander who led British forces in their bloodiest tour of Afghanistan since the mission began, is returning home today – Brigadier Tim Radford, Commander of the 19 Light Brigade handed over control of Task Force Helmand at the weekend. Let’s go to Brize Norton.

Brigadier Tim Radford, Commander 19 Light Brigade:

It’s been a very hard tour as many of you will know, and tragically we’ve lost 66 brave men over this summer period, and many more wounded. It has been a very hard tour and our thoughts, particularly at this time, go out to the family and the friends of those who suffered.

It has been a long tour and it’s been a tour where we’ve seen things change. We have faced an enemy who do not want to fight us force on force, but rather they wanted to lay improvised explosive devices to halt us in our path.

This summer we’ve had a total of 1,800 improvised explosive devices laid in our path so we’ve had to adapt quickly and that’s never been seen before in Helmand. We’ve had to adapt quickly and along with the Americans and the Afghan National Security Forces, we have planned synchronised operations to push the Taliban away from the population centres. And we’ve been successful, and we undermined their command and control, their logistics, and we have pushed them away from those areas where they could have intimidated and struck fear into the Afghan people.

I think also it’s important to mention that the progress that’s been made in terms of the Afghan National Security Forces - we worked very closely with them over the summer and on 20th August it was they who led the security for the elections and we were in support of them, and that’s a real sign of progress and something which is a milestone towards transition as well.

In terms of other tangibles, in terms of illustrations of the progress that’s been made, we have built 10 schools, we have built roads, we’ve seen the first opening of a domestic airport north of Lashkar Gah and my soldiers have also found over 1,000 tonnes of chemicals and opium. So my feeling at this stage is that the grip that the Taliban have on the population in the central belt is certainly weakening and I know it’s something that the 11 Brigade who’ve taken over from us, will push forward over the winter months.

Finally, I’d just like to say a couple of words of thanks. The first is to the people of Wootton Bassett who have supported us extremely well over the summer and they have shown remarkable respect and dignity to my fallen that have come home.

And if I may just pay tribute to the men and women of this Brigade who have fought with the most extraordinary resolve and courage over the summer months – they have been tested to the extreme, but they have delivered. Thank you.

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