Saturday, December 19, 2009
Duke makes surprise visit to troops in Afghanistan
The Duke of York made a surprise visit to British troops across Afghanistan as more than 10,000 servicemen and women prepared to spend Christmas away from home.
The Duke flew into Camp Bastion in Helmand province on Thursday evening and met personnel from the Fleet Air Arm, of which he is Commodore-in-Chief.
After spending the night in Camp Bastion, the Duke viewed Apache, Merlin and Chinook helicopters with Lieutenant Colonel Mike Smith from the Joint Helicopter Force yesterday.
He later visited the main field hospital at Camp Bastion.
The Duke, who is Colonel-in-Chief of the Yorkshire Regiment, met soldiers and officers from the 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, and watched a display of counter-IED (improvised explosive device) drills.
2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment is currently in Afghanistan as part of an operation to help mentor troops from the Afghan National Army.
The Duke later flew to Lashkar Gah, where he was given a briefing on operations in Afghanistan by Brigadier James Cowan, the Commander of Task Force Helmand.
The Duke met a number of troops from the 1st Battalion the Grenadier Guards before flying to Kandahar where he met RAF personnel working on the Tornado GR4 and Hercules C130 aircraft.
He said he was "hugely impressed" by the work of the servicemen and women he met during his visit.
"It's vitally important we continue to recognise the extraordinary daily bravery of British troops in Afghanistan," the Duke said.
"These are individuals who are prepared to pay the highest price to help ensure our security at home.
"I think all of us have a duty to support them to the fullest, particularly at this time of year when thousands of them are spending Christmas away from their families."