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Newbury sapper prepares for Afghanistan

A Territorial Army member is to volunteer his services in the war-torn country later this year

A VOLUNTEER soldier from Newbury is gearing up for deployment to Afghanistan later this year.

Sapper Paul Mackrill, a civil servant by day, is a Territorial Army (TA) member of the Newcastle-based 103 Field Squadron of 71 Engineer Regiment is currently training alongside other members of the Regiment ahead of their mission in September 2011.

The unit members, known as the Herrick 15 (Afghanistan) Cohort, are currently conducting specific training for the six-month tour of duty.

Sapper Mackrill, who has been in the TA for nine years, said: “The training scenarios we are practising are in preparation to support the infantry and include the destruction of various targets including compound walls, as well as tree clearance tasks in support of the fighting troops.

“The majority of the training is taking place in Scotland at the Army's Barry Buddon Training Area, near Dundee, and at the Regiment's headquarters at RAF Leuchars in Fife.

“I'm enjoying the training and I'm looking forward to serving in Afghanistan. It's certainly going to be a huge change to my day job as a civil servant.”

Upon completion of the training, the cohort will then augment a Regular Engineer Regiment which is based in Germany, before travelling to Afghanistan as part of the Joint Engineer Theatre Group.

Their roles will be varied, from building force protection bases, to repairing key infrastructures in remote villages.

They will also deliver combat support to the troops, including explosive method of entry, and mobility/counter-mobility support to ground forces.

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