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Army March 31, 2011
Gunners return home
By Capt Sarah Vesey
WITH only weeks remaining
before Australian artillerymen
end their attachment to British
operations in Helmand province,
the gunners have continued to
provide fire missions in support
of coalition and Afghan forces.
The 15 gunners from 1 Fd
Regt are attached to the British
7th Parachute, Royal Horse
Artillery (7 Para RHA) and are
currently operating from a new
patrol base at Lashkar Gah Durai,
in northern Helmand Province.
CO 7 Para RHA Lt-Col Gary
Wilkinson said integration had
been seamless and the Australian
troops had been remarkably flex-
ible and shown absolute adapt-
ability to any mission.
"Personally it has been an
absolute pleasure to have the
Australians here. I have worked
with the Australians on a previous
Herrick operation and now for
this final deployment," he said.
"It has been an effective exam-
ple of multinational integration on
The Australian gunners of 105
'Tiger' Tp have lived and worked
alongside their 7 Para RHA col-
leagues on remote patrol bases in
Helmand for the past five months.
While the security situation in
the province has become increas-
ingly more stable, during an
early stage in their deployment,
at a forward operating base in
the province, the Australian and
British position was attacked by
insurgents with rocket propelled
grenade launchers and small arms
fire.The men were forced to
defend their position by using the
105mm Hamel gun in a direct fire
role, a rare action for artillery.
The Australian Detachment
Commander, Capt Mick Cook,
said the deployment had been
challenging but the growth of
peace and stability had proven
worthy of the commitment.
"The warm and friendly reac-
tion of the Afghan civilians to us
is a key indicator that our work
here is making a difference and
worthwhile," Capt Cook said.
The Australian gunners will
make their way home to Australia
next month after what has been a
long but rewarding final mission
on Operation Herrick.
The British 105mm Hamel
light guns provide indirect fire
support to troops on the ground
many kilometres away.
Troops can call for offensive
support to provide additional fire
power when in contact with the
enemy and often request illumi-
nation rounds to be fired to pro-
vide vision at night and to deter
Incoming: Bdr Stephen Nicholles (above) provides
overwatch from a patrol base for the joint Australian
and British gun detachments to Op Herrick as
Australia's involvement in the operation winds up.
Gunners of Tiger Tp (inset) stop for a photo at their
remote patrol base.
Shot over: Gunners fire one of their final missions, an illumination salvo, from the fire support base.
Photos by Sgt Neil Ruskin
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