The Duke of York meets Naval Airmen from 857 in Afghanistan
His Royal Highness flew into Camp Bastion on Saturday and stayed overnight at the base.
On Sunday morning he had a breakfast meeting with the Commander of Joint Force Support (Afghanistan), Air Commodore John Bessell, where they discussed the redeployment of equipment back to the UK.
After breakfast he visited medical staff at the Military Hospital before travelling to the Joint Aviation Group (JAG). After speaking with the Commander of the JAG, Group Captain Frazer Nicholson, he was able to meet with personnel from 857 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), Fleet Air Arm, and reflect on his previous naval career experience compared to the Unit’s modern day role.
857 NAS operate the Royal Navy's Sea King Mk7 Airborne Surveillance and Control helicopters (SKASaC) in support of operations across Central Helmand, their sophisticated radar system providing intelligence to ground forces.
At the JAG he also met Lynx and Apache air crew from the Army Air Corps.
Lieutenant Johnny Orchard RN, an engineer with the Apache Detachment, said:
“We are enjoying a rewarding tour with still so much to achieve during the upcoming months. It was a pleasure to welcome His Royal Highness to Afghanistan to see the UK’s rotary wing assets in theatre.”
The Duke then flew by helicopter to Main Operating Base Lashkar Gah, where he met with the Commander of Task Force Helmand, Brigadier Rupert Jones.
Brigadier Jones gave a briefing on the work of the Task Force in support of the Afghan security forces who are in the lead for security in Central Helmand for the first time this summer.
While at Lashkar Gah, His Royal Highness also visited the Police Mentoring and Advisory Group (PMAG). Formed from The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS), the PMAG supports the Afghan police as they develop towards providing enduring security across Helmand.
The Duke, Royal Colonel of 2 SCOTS, then took the opportunity to travel on to the Lashkar Gah Training Centre, where the Afghan police train their new recruits, to see at firsthand the work of the Battalion.
After enjoying lunch with members of 2 SCOTS he returned to Camp Bastion and visited personnel from the Force Protection Wing.
His Royal Highness then left Helmand and flew to Kandahar Air Field, the home of the Royal Air Force's 904 Expeditionary Air Wing. There he visited personnel from the Tornado GR4 Detachment following the handover from 31 Squadron to 12 (Bomber) Squadron earlier in the day.
The Duke of York, speaking on Sunday to the British Forces Broadcasting Service in Kandahar, of which he is Patron, said:
“It’s absolutely vital that members of the Royal Family should come and visit troops on the front line. We try and come out once or twice a year to make sure the connection is there and maintained.
“The thing that has been driven home to me today is that the Afghan army and police, having been presented with the fact that they are in charge, have risen to the challenge.
“The training that we have delivered them over the last two or three years has stood them in good stead and they are really well prepared for taking this on, and an enduring operation for Afghanistan.”