Townsville soldiers return from Afghanistan
1 February 2015
Having spent the last six months poised ready to defend Coalition advisors, Townsville based soldiers that made up Force Protection Element Two (FPE2) can stand down - proud they have completed their mission.
Comprising 108 soldiers from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and B Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment from Lavarack Barracks, the members of FPE2 are returning to Australia after completing their force protection roles in Kandahar and Kabul, Afghanistan.
Company Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Class Two (CSM WO2) Eddie Walsh, said the deployment was a rewarding experience for the team.
"It was a great trip for the professional development of my soldiers," he said.
"I am impressed with the standard my troops have attained and maintained throughout their rotation – As CSM it’s been satisfying to be a part of this deployment."
As guardian angels for Coalition mentors at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA) and the 205th ANA Hero Corp Coalition Advisory Team (205 CAT), the soldiers provided mentors situational awareness and the ability to go about their daily tasking with the reassurance that professional soldiers ‘have their back’ in the inherently dangerous environment of Afghanistan.
The Guardian Angel program is a one-on-one arrangement where a single soldier is assigned to accompany an advisor, whereas the Sentinel program caters for the protection a larger group of advisors where one-on-one is not possible.
The role is a different one from previous infantry roles in Afghanistan, but WO2 Walsh said there was still much to be proud of.
"Of course it was hard for everybody being away from family and loved ones for so long; in overcoming that one of my roles is to keep them busy and focused on the task at hand," he said.
"I think they gained a lot more than they realise at the moment; they're all glad to be going home but they will look back on this trip and realise they contributed greatly."
Officer Commanding Alpha Coy Major Huw Kirby said their biggest achievement was the FPE achieving its mission.
"In a nutshell, the core role of my soldiers was their biggest challenge; they are put into an environment where they provide intimate security and support for coalition advisors, and they do this day in day out regardless of the changing environment," he said.
"My troops have executed their mission flawlessly, with at no time any recourse to their section or platoon commanders.
"Every advisor they have been directly responsible for has gone home to their families or is still here doing the job.
"The legacy my troops are leaving for FPE3 is something of which I am incredibly proud."
The Australian led 205 CAT mission provides advice, training and assistance to the Corps headquarters staff of the Afghan National Army at Camp Hero in Kandahar province while the British led ANAOA mission supports the development of the ANSF through the provision of training and advisory support to ANA instructors at the academy.