Raf Honington troops head to Afghan war zone

Rebecca Gough More than 100 Suffolk-based gunners are heading off to war for a six-month tour to maintain security at and around Kandahar airbase in south east Afghanistan.

Rebecca Gough

More than 100 Suffolk-based gunners are heading off to war for a six-month tour to maintain security at and around Kandahar airbase in south east Afghanistan.

The 150 members of 2 Squadron RAF Regiment will set off from RAF Honington tomorrow and fly out from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on Tuesday.

Flight Lieutenant Mick Liston, spokesman for RAF Honington, said: “They are part of the force protection team which patrols outside the wire.

“As well as hardened veterans there will be some RAF Regiment gunners for whom this will be their first operational tour.

“They are out there preventing Taliban or al Qaida missiles coming at our aircraft. It is very hands-on stuff.”

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They will be led by Squadron Leader Matt Carter, awarded the Military Cross following an operation against Taliban forces in Helmand in 2006. In his citation Sqn Ldr Carter was praised for his “selfless bravery” as he directed air support against the enemy.

The departure of 2 Squadron takes place just a week before 27 Squadron RAF Regiment returns home to Honington, near Bury St Edmunds, following its six-month tour.

The squadron will become the most recent unit with Suffolk links to be deployed to Afghanistan.

The Royal Anglian Regiment, whose regimental headquarters are in Bury St Edmunds, currently has its 1st Battalion stationed in Helmand. Fighter pilots from RAF Lakenheath are currently on a four-month deployment in south east Asia from where missions are being flown over Afghanistan.

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