Plymouth troops sent back to Afghanistan

ARMED forces personnel in Plymouth are in line to return to Afghanistan in the summer of 2011.

Sources have told The Herald that Stonehouse-based 3 Commando Brigade – home of the Royal Marines – has been earmarked to deploy to the conflict zone in just under two years’ time.

It will be the brigade’s first major deployment to the war-torn country in the summertime and, once again, it is likely to see more than 1,200 servicemen and women involved.

It will come as a blow to hundreds of Plymouth-based families, who only welcomed back their loved ones from their last six-month deployment entitled Operation Herrick 9, in April.

The brigade – which is the commando formation of the British Armed Forces – is gearing up for a rigorous training period with Arctic warfare training in Norway set for early next year.

The commandos believe if you can operate in temperatures of -30 degrees, you can operate anywhere in the world.

Afghanistan’s summers are harsh with daily temperatures peaking at around +38 degrees.

A source at 3 Commando Brigade’s headquarters told The Herald: “We are now constantly thinking of Herrick 14. It’s all about getting as much experience as possible now by training for it.

“Being our first summer deployment it will be tough.

“Working in those sorts of temperatures will be at the extremes of human endurance.”

A Royal Marine from Plymouth, said: “It is going to be redders [very hot] out there. Nothing can really prepare you for that heat but we’re going to train hard.”

It is likely the brigade – which will include marines, Army commandos, and other Royal Navy personnel – will deploy in April and May returning in September and October.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “Any decision relating to the deployment of personnel on operations must be announced to Parliament in the first instance.

“An announcement about the next Operation Herrick roulement (CORR) is likely to be made in the near future.”

The Herald understands an announcement is expected later this month.

During the last deployment from September 2008 to May this year, Plymouth lost 12 of its servicemen from the Royal Marines and Army.

Royal Marines from Plymouth are already counting down the weeks until their forthcoming deployment with Taunton-based 40 Commando expected to redeploy to Afghanistan’s southern province in the autumn. An official announcement on this is also expected in the near future.