Monday, May 3, 2010

Royal Dragoon Guards arrive in Afghanistan

Trooper Daniel Hedges, from Pocklington, practices his drills before deploying to his forward base

Lead elements of the Royal Dragoon Guards regiment have arrived in Afghanistan, ahead of a six month deployment.

Soldiers from the Catterick based regiment started to arrive in early April and many have already deployed to their operational locations. Meanwhile, soldiers from the regiment’s ‘D’ Squadron are making final preparations before they leave the UK, for Afghanistan, in mid May.

.The Regiment is deploying as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force mission

The regiment is deploying, as part of 4 Mechanised Brigade, on Herrick 12, and will undertake a number of different roles across Helmand Province.

The regiment is split amongst four squadrons. ‘B’ Squadron will be equipped with Mastiff Armoured vehicles and deploy in support of the Royal Ghurkha Rifles (1 RGR), the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (1 Lancs.) and the Danish Battalion (Danbat) battle groups as manoeuvre support.

A Mastiff II heavily protected vehicle

‘C’ Squadron will carry out a ground holding infantry role as part of 1 Lancs. battle group. ‘D’ Squadron will be equipped with the Viking amphibious all terrain vehicle. ‘A’ Squadron will fulfil the rear party role and remain in Catterick.

The RDG regiment recruits from the areas of Yorkshire and Northern Ireland. The regiment has strong ties to the city of York; being awarded the freedom of the City in 1999. The regimental museum is at Tower Street.

Troopers Daniel Hedges (front)and Richard Pollock

Trooper Daniel Hedges (19), from Pocklington, will be working with partnered Afghan National Army troops carrying out foot patrols, together with colleagues from C Squadron, as part of the 1 Lancs. battle group. “I think the best thing about being out here for six months will be the bonding with the lads”, he said.

“You get much closer as a unit and get to know each other much better. I’m also looking forward to seeing how other nations like the Danes and the Afghans are working out here and how they do things.

“I was a bit uneasy about working with the Afghans at first, but now I’m really looking forward to it. I think it will be really interesting, learning about their culture and seeing how they operate.

Trooper Aidan Carter, from Keighley, prepares his vehicle for the first patrol

“The biggest challenge I think is going to be the weather because by the time we are at the height of summer, the heat is going to take its toll, especially on the men and equipment, but you just learn to live with it.

“I’ve got mum and dad and my girlfriend Kerry all back in Pocklington and they have been really supportive. Naturally, any parent is going to be quite worried and afraid of the unknown, but it’s just like basic training really in terms of the time away from home. You just have to crack on with it.

'B' Squadron prepare to deploy from Camp Bastion

“You do miss certain things from home, but it’s not like you are coming out here on your own. You’ve got your mates and it’s like one big family.

“I joined the RDG because it’s the local regiment and because it’s equipped with tanks. Things change though and we are now doing an infantry role in Afghanistan, but you have to adapt to it. I’m still looking forward to it, getting out here, seeing the locals and getting on with our job without losing anybody, or even getting injured.

Trooper Richard Pollock (19) from Acomb ,in York, will join Trooper Hedges in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province. “I’m slightly apprehensive but I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to trying to make a difference.

Trooper Richard Pollock, from Acomb, York

“The training we have had seems to be falling into place so far and I’m looking forward to that continuing.

“Out here, you tend to bond more as a team. You’re not constantly getting told off just because you are a junior rank. You are treated more like an adult and a part of the team and I’m looking forward to that continuing.

“I think the biggest challenge is being switched on for the entire time. I am the primary route finder or ‘point man’, for the majority of what we do. So you have to be completely focused when you are doing it. You always have to be second guessing where the insurgents have planted the IEDs and I imagine that is going to be pretty exhausting after several months.

Trooper Richard Smith, from Middlesbrough, tightens the wheel nuts of his Mastiff armoured vehicle

“My sister lives in Acomb and my grandparents live in Haxby. They think the same thing that every family thinks. They are concerned and worried about me, but I have said to them that it was ultimately my decision and it’s a voluntary army, no-one forces you to do it, so they are supportive of me, but understandably apprehensive.

“The worst thing about being here at the moment is the dust. It is just unbelievable. 2 or 3 days ago, we were sat in boiling hot sun, then torrential rain and then a dust storm, all within the space of half an hour. So it is a complete mix, but until we step outside of the wire I don’t want to be second guessing anything”.

Captain Mike Lee, Squadron Headquarters Troop Leader, will join the Danish battalion together with 24 Royal Dragoon Guard soldiers under his command. “Everyone is happy to be out here, it is what they have trained for. It’s a shame we are not working with all of our friends from back in Catterick, from the regiment, but we do occasionally bump into them and it’s always nice to see another RDG.

Captain Mike Lee

“If anything, because we have three squadrons in Afghanistan, all deployed in different roles, and all learning new jobs, we are all learning from each other as well.

“In the pre-deployment training, when some people were training to do an infantry style role, we were training to work in Mastiffs and others were working in Viking armoured vehicles. It’s been really interesting. Everyone’s been doing a new bit of training and they talk to each other about it and learn lessons from each other.

“Because of the nature of war in Afghanistan, we haven’t deployed main battle tanks. We’ve never had them in Afghanistan and it’s certainly a different role for us. But that said, the troops have all adapted really well. The Mastiff is a great bit of kit, and they really enjoy working in it. It’s a well protected heavily armoured vehicle which is what they are used to and it’s what they enjoy.

“Afghanistan is continually changing and the main focus for our training over the past six months has been not just the war fighting element, but more importantly, on exercising courageous restraint. It’s all about teaching that although we can return fire, sometimes it is better not to, because if we are going to succeed out in Afghanistan, we are going to succeed by protecting the local population, working with the Afghan National Army and working with the locals. The biggest challenge is going to be getting that balance right.

Trooper Cowan Botha, from South Africa, and Trooper James Whiteley, from Leeds

“The troops understand that concept and we have lots of discussions with them to make sure they understand it and they know what they have to do to bring this conflict to a close.

“For my troop, working with the Danes should be interesting. We have been out with them a few times. They are really friendly. It’s very interesting. They are still part of ISAF and their coffee is fantastic.

Picture Credit: Captain Philip Atkinson SCOTS


  1. I look at these young boys and am sad - they will come back seeing and doing things I dont want to imagine...

    Like them, my son out there is doing an infantry role - although he has years of experience in the Army, it is still new for him - so different to what he has done in the past...I don't believe it is right....whilst our service personnel are trained to a high standard..changing their roles looses that experience which can lead to vulnerability..
    making new friends is great, learning new jobs is great however, I feel our troops (under the current circumstances) should be completely competent in what they are doing and two weeks at Camp B is not going to give them that...Understand, I am very Proud of our Troops they do an amazing job..but perhaps that one wounded personnel or one death could of been avoided..I don't believe this is the right way forward. Thinking of you all out there - Take Care..x

  2. As an ex Skin i am so proud of all of you lads out there. I wish you good luck and a safe tour.

  3. RDGs - we're all proud of you in Afghan. Keep safe. Fare Thee Well (an old Skin).

  4. trickthevic 593May 5, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    Keep safe. Fare Thee Well For A While. An old Skin.

  5. As I currently have a son in his final stages of training at Bovington and will some time over the next few weeks join his regiment The Royal Dragoon Guards and most probably will be deployed to Afghanistan, I would like to say we are all so very proud of you keep your heads down and look after each other and come home safe and sound to your families. Fare Thee Well. (the wife of an ex Skin)

  6. As an ex 4/7DG I am very proud of you all. Return home safely. Quis Separabit

  7. Im an ex RDG and i wish i was going out there with you.Have a good tour keep safe
    Quis separabit.

  8. come on lads keep the head down and stay safe, D Sqn are on our way soon!

  9. My big lad had his 21st birthday in Nade Ali - not what I had planned for him, but there you go. My heart aches with missing him but bursts with pride at the same time - come home safe to me soon x

  10. My lad will also spend his birthday out in Nade-Ali, im a very proud mum and have an amazing son i wish all the lads a save return x

  11. Stay safe lads

    "The Rock"


  12. I am so proud of my son this is his second tour he is a hero stay safe, all of you


  13. good luck lads all the best hope everyone stays safe thinking of you all trooper henderson a sqn 2001 - 2006

  14. good luck lads try to stay safe out there im thinking of you all. D SQUADRON, ROYAL DRAGOON GUARDS, 2003-2008

    Quis separabit.

  15. helen white
    my little brother will be joining you guys out there very soon he should of been there on the 30th may but now its the 4th of june as a family we will be so worried but yet so proud stay safe all of you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx





  17. all the best boys and stay safe i know its a shit hole " i know "
    roy keane, leon holdridge csqn/bsqn

  18. Stay safe guys all the best

    Justin Rowe Ex 4/7th 1983 to 1988 transfered to to 59 Ind Sqn Commando Royal Engineers 1989 to 1995. Recently raised £13,750 for Help for Heroes ran 321 miles in 7 days from London to York.

  19. my son is with RDG in afgan at the moment and to be honest the next four months will be the longest of my life but he loves the army and just wants to do his job - god bless all of the RDG lads and lasses out in afgan x

  20. All the best lads keep your heads down and your powder dry

    Ex RDG. LCPL. Freddy Kruger
    quis separabit and fare thee well

  21. Such sad news yesterday.
    Stay strong lads. Thoughts and prayers are with you all and your families.
    Heads down and spirits high!!!
    God Bless

    Ex 'wife of' a Skin and RDG
    Fare Thee Well
    Come home safe xx

  22. From ex RDG Andy Cottrell to all the boys of the RDG, I am saddened by the loss of any member of HM Forces, but all the more so when its a member of my regiment. My heart goes out to his parents. To you all keep safe and lets hope this is our only loss this tour. To quote "Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum" and give no ground.
    Keep Focused and safe, you make me proud to have served 23years under the colours. I hope to see you all on your return parade.

    Quis Separabit
    Cotts (1980-2003)

  23. to all those serving soldiers you make us all proud to be british. To those who have lost their lives from the RDG you will never be forgotten. to you all keep safe be proud

    quis separabit

    From BEZ Berwick ex RDG

  24. My son is on his second tour and i like his mum are so proud of him as we are of all the lads out in afgan keep safe and all come home well.

  25. dale me and your mum cant wait for you and the rest of the rdg to come home. we pray for every soldier out in afgan to come home safe, we are so proud of you and the rest of the lads and lasses out there our thoughts are with you all. the lads at dudley hill rugby league club send their love and cant wait to take you out for a beer love you loads mum and dad.

  26. We are all thinking of you guys out there, so tough, you do a fantastic job. Stay safe and just know your families friends and the wider public respect and admire you, and what you do...special thoughts for my lovely nephew Lee W who is on a 6 month tour there now...Bless you x

  27. Your all doing a grand job out there lads,stay safe and come back safe..
    Im very proud of each and every one of you

    Steve Ex Cpl skins

  28. Fare thee well guys, not long now. So proud of you all x from some 'older skins/RDGs' xxx All part of the same regimental family.FTW the Jasps x

  29. Good luck lads. Stay safe. Andy Mac

  30. from an ex r.d.g chris cardy - keep your heads low and have a safe tour lads and hope you all get home safe

  31. my boys B the black horse squadron all start coming home next week and i cant wait to see you all. these last 2 months have dragged! wish id been able to stay out there with you all. see you all soon. let the messiness begin. RIP the 4 that never made it back.
    tpr ash smith
    tpr james levy leverett
    sgt david bob monkhouse
    cpl matt stenton
    sleep well lads

  32. My son is out there his second tour. All I can say is for the last 5 months I have lived and breathed RDG watching and waiting. Saddened to know that there are mothers out there who will never wrap their arms around their boys again.

    Not long now till you will be home stay safe all of you God bless.

  33. Not long now lads keep your heads down well done on the lads who arrived back recently see u all when your back all the best woody x

  34. keep safe, hope you all come home together, thanks Liam, 10 Leeds