Royal Navy on active service in Afghanistan

Cdr Jane Allen at the top of Semaphore Tower
(RN website photo by LA(PHOT) Jenny Lodge)

RN website 9 May 2013 said:
A long-serving Royal Naval Reservist is preparing to leave her Devon home to spend six months in northern Afghanistan serving as a media adviser to the senior British general and second in command to all the coalition forces. Commander Jane Allen, who has 33 years’ service in the RNR and is attached to HMS Vivid in Plymouth, expects that it will be her last deployment overseas.

In 2006 she performed a similar role in Baghdad, on the staff of the Commander of all British forces in Iraq. That involved working at a strategic level with senior Iraqi political, military and civilian organisations, also liaising with UK Embassy staff and the UK military organisations in southern Iraq...
CPO Paul OShaughnessy May 2013.jpg
CPO Paul O’Shaughnessy at Camp Bastion

(Portsmouth News photo)

Portsmouth News 10 May 2013 said:
THERE are thousands of miles between Afghanistan and Titchfield – and this naval analyst is going to cycle them all. Chief Petty Officer Paul O’Shaughnessy, 47, from Titchfield, has set himself a mammoth task while deployed in Afghanistan. He will pedal the staggering distance of 4,600 miles at an average speed of 18mph, the distance from the desert warzone to his home. Juggling the challenge with his duties while on operations at Camp Bastion, Paul is devoting all of his spare time to achieving the feat before the end of his four-month tour...

Paul has acquired a bike in Camp Bastion which he will ride around the base to rack up the miles, along with exercise bikes in the camp’s gym. Paul joined the Royal Navy in 1982, serving in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and northern Iraq. He has also completed a previous tour of Afghanistan...

To find out more about Paul’s challenge, or if you would like to sponsor him, visit
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847 Naval Air Squadron flyers.jpg
(RN website photo)

RN website 21 May 2013 said:
The final tour of duty in Afghanistan by the Commando Helicopter Force fliers of 847 Naval Air Squadron ends tomorrow when they return to Yeovilton. The Lynx men and women have completed their fourth and final stint in Helmand, providing cover for air and ground forces since January.

Just like their Royal Marines comrades on the ground, the mission of the Royal Navy’s commando fliers is also complete as the men and women of 847 Naval Air Squadron return home from Afghanistan. The fourth and final deployment by the Lynx fliers – based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset – ends tomorrow after a four-month tour of duty acting as the ‘eyes in the skies’ both of ground forces and RAF Chinook and Merlin helicopters.

847 deployed to Afghanistan in January after a two-year break from the troubled land, this time flying the Army Air Corps’ wheeled Lynx Mk9As...
Surg Cdr Richard Graham RNR and Lt James Taylor RNR.jpg
Surg Cdr Richard Graham RNR and Lt James Taylor RNR (close friend
and colleague who was deployed in Afghanistan at the same time)

(RN website photo)​

RN website 29 May 2013 said:
A Consultant Radiologist from Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust has won a prestigious national medical award. Cardiff City Hall hosted the 2013 Military and Civilian Health Partnership Awards, an annual competition, now in its fifth year on 21 May 2013. The aim of the awards is to promote clinical excellence provided by all professional groups involved in the healthcare of the UK Forces, their families and veterans.

Surgeon Commander Richard Graham of the Royal Navy Reserves unit, HMS Flying Fox, based in Bristol, was nominated for this award as a result of his deployment as a consultant radiologist this year to Afghanistan. He has contributed to the world-class trauma outcomes from the hospital at Camp Bastion. It is his second deployment, the first being in 2010. He has also been involved in disaster relief training undertaking an exercise in Cyprus in 2008...

The Healthcare Reservist of the Year Award is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the healthcare of patients in the Armed Forces or the Reserve Services. This award is only open to individual healthcare professionals serving in the reserve services at the time of the activity/piece of work cited, but within that restriction is open to healthcare professionals in any discipline...
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Reverend Stuart Hallam RN
(RN photo)​

ITV News 4 Jun 2013 said:
A Royal Navy Commando Chaplain from Devon has been deployed to Afghanistan to provide support to military personnel, where he travels throughout the vast base of Camp Bastion on his very own ‘God Quad’. Reverend Stuart Hallam, 47, is one of only a handful of Commando trained Chaplains in the Royal Navy. He's currently serving on a 3 month tour of duty as the Chaplain to the Joint Aviation Group (JAG), based at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province...

Back in the UK, Stuart serves as the Chaplain to Commando Helicopter Force (CHF), based at RNAS Yeovilton...
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Honours and awards ceremony at RAF Wyton
with presentations by Brigadier Nick Davies

Cambridge News & Crier 30 May 2013 said:
HONOURS and awards have been presented to personnel at RAF Wyton in a special ceremony to mark distunguished service. Brigadier Nick Davies, commander Joint Forces Intelligence Group, presented 20 awards including the Operation Herrick Campaign Medal for service in Afghanistan, Long Service and Good Conduct Medals and a NATO medal...

Long Service and Good Conduct Medals went to Flight Sergeant Lee Fairhead and Petty Officer Alexandra Cave... PO Cave joined the Royal Navy in 1997 and has carried out a number of roles at sea and served in Afghanistan...
Surg Cdr Anthony Lambert RN.jpg
Surg Cdr Anthony Lambert RN
Plymouth Herald 4 Jun 2013 said:
A military surgeon received an honour from Prince Charles for work in Afghanistan – then invited the heir to the throne on a surfing trip with wounded servicemen. Surgeon-Commander Anthony Lambert collected his OBE at Buckingham Palace in recognition of saving lives in the war zone.

The award – announced in the New Year Honours list – also recognised his charity work for wounded servicemen in Plymouth. That includes organising an annual charity rugby match between Royal Marines and the Peninsula Medical School and arranging adventure sports trips...
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846 NAS recipients showing their Afghanistan Operational Service Medals
(RN website photo by POA(Phot) Merrill)

RN website 11 Jun 2013 said:
Royal Navy and Royal Marine Sea King aviators and support personnel from 846 Naval Air Squadron recently received their Afghanistan Operational Service Medals after completing a successful deployment in support of the Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan). Watched by colleagues, family and friends at their base at RNAS Yeovilton, 14 personnel received their Operation Herrick medals from the head of the Fleet Air Arm, Rear Admiral Russ Harding OBE.

Elements of 846 Naval Air Squadron and supporting elements have been operating at Camp Bastion and Kandahar in Afghanistan since 2007. The flying tasks for the aviators are diverse and extremely challenging, calling for tactical low-level flight by day and night in all weather 24/7. As part of the Commando helicopter Force personnel are trained to operate from the field using so-called Forward Operating Bases, which are temporary sites close to the action and were regularly operating in Helmand province one of the most hazardous areas in the fight against the Taliban...
Royal Naval Reserves congregate in Afghanistan.jpg
RN website photo

RN website 20 Jun 2013 said:
Three Royal Navy Reservists have had a rare meeting of mind and body in Camp Bastion Afghanistan during their tours in 2013. The members of the Royal Navy Reserves Communication and Information Systems (CIS) have all found themselves deployed to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan at the same time which is a rare occurrence for this specialist branch that provides niche capability to both front line and support units across the globe...

The need for up to date information in a modern military operation is more important than ever and it is here that the specialist knowledge of the Royal Naval Reservist can be exploited to the maximum. With so many of regular service specialists already deployed, it has fallen to the RNR to deliver specialist support to Afghanistan.


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BBC website photo

Front-line fitness: Getting gym kit to UK troops in Afghanistan
BBC News said:
British combat involvement in Afghanistan may be in its final phase, but for servicemen and women the day-to-day grind of life on the front line continues. Despite their already very physical job, working out is one thing that helps them cope.

Keeping fit is one way many troops blow off steam, but in sometimes very basic and challenging conditions, it hasn't always been easy to do. It's become a lot easier in recent months though, thanks to Warrant Officer Gareth Davies, who flies back and forth across Afghanistan delivering kit, setting it up and helping servicemen and women use it.

"The guys on the front line don't have an awful lot," he told the BBC News website. "People think, 'Oh they must be drawing down, everything's cool' and it is in some ways. But they're still in a lot of danger and often still living in some really awful conditions, so they need to keep their bodies and minds in good shape to cope with that."

WO Davies - and two civilian engineers - have travelled to the remotest corners of Afghanistan to supply gym equipment. They go by helicopter, although sometimes heavier items like treadmills are moved by road and he and his team arrive by air to install them.

The Ministry of Defence funds the supplies, but in the past had relied on outside companies to choose what to send and where. "There was kit but there wasn't enough, or it wasn't suitable - there's no point sending something like a treadmill to the forward positions. They don't have the generator capacity to run and even if they do, they can't keep it clean or maintain it.

"So I said, 'Let's stop doing that, let's look at all the other options for things that don't require any power - and-filled punch bags, skipping ropes, suspension training systems that rely on gravity. I call it the gym in a box. It's made up of lots of bits of lightweight kit and it'll be able to stay in theatre until the very last soldier comes home."

The box is also inexpensive - he estimates about £600 on average - a lot less than even a single larger item like a rowing machine. "Working out is something each guy can do for himself," WO Davies says. "A lot of them live in pretty austere conditions and they spend 24/7 with their buddies - that's pretty intense. Working out gives them some much needed personal time. It can help blow off frustration too - they're young guys and they need that sometimes. For the guys out in the remote places, me turning up also reminds them someone is thinking about them and their needs. The secretary of state has said he doesn't want troop welfare to slide during the draw down and this is a big part of that."

That point is brought home when WO Davies produces "Thank you" emails he's received for his work. In one, Capt G Thorne, commanding officer at a mobile operating base in Lashkar Gah, writes: "Due to unpredictable and demanding work hours, members of the detachment are unable to use the main gym... Fitness is taken seriously by all members of the detachment which means that the arrival of the gym kit from your department has certainly increased morale."

Another email, from WO2 Gerry McQuade, working with the National Defence Academy (NDA), training Afghan troops, reads: "We have been like the forgotten orphans in NDA, but a visit and the... equipment we received has [gone] a long way in raising morale amongst our junior soldiers, especially in this stage of the campaign of drawn downs and closures."

WO Davies has also built a gym for Afghan soldiers and interpreters and trained a local individual as an nstructor. But one of his proudest achievements has been getting kit to the RAF gunners who protect Camp Bastion. They live in guard towers for up to six days at a time with very little to fill their off-duty hours.

An email from Wg Cdr Andy Jones reads: "As you can imagine spending up to six days at a tower is a challenge and anything we can do to enable some routine goes a long way to maintaining the professionalism and focus of the men. Many of the gunners enjoy their training and the ability to use equipment... whilst at the tower ensures that they achieve their fitness goals."

One such goal might be taking part in Afghan Aces, the 24 hour tennis tournament WO Davies has dreamt up, involving personnel from the Army, Navy and Air Force. Due to take place on 29 June - which is Armed Forces Day - it will raise money for Support our Soldiers, a charity which sends care parcels to troops.

"It'll probably be a bit hotter than Wimbledon, probably about 44 degrees," he jokes. "There are about 24 guys taking part so if you do the maths there's not going to be much time for sleeping."

WO Davies describes himself as "very privileged" to have the role he has, but admits feeling the pressure at times. "There's only three of us to do the whole of Afghanistan and we're out at least twice a week on visits. We've found ourselves in a couple of tricky spots. Once I ended up on an unplanned foot patrol - we couldn't go on with the vehicles but I was determined to get the kit there. I got some of the guys from the base and we each carried one or two bits of gym equipment there by hand."

He adds: "I did make a few bold statements when I took the job, but I can say hand on heart that every single service person at forward locations has been provided with some kind of fitness equipment so they can take care of themselves."
Ldg Naval Nurse Leanne Parry with Afghanistan OSM.jpg
Ldg Naval Nurse Leanne Parry being presented
with her OSM for Afghanistan by Brigadier Bill
Dunham, Deputy Commandant Royal Marines

(RN website photo by LA(Phot) Vicki Benwell)

RN website 28 Jun 2013 said:
A Royal Naval Nurse from Gainsborough has been presented with her operational medal for Afghanistan following her first deployment to Camp Bastion hospital. Leading Naval Nurse Leanne Parry, 25, is a specialist in trauma intensive care and worked as part of a busy team treating both military patients and Afghan civilians...

Leanne, who attended Coventry University, joined the Royal Navy in June 2006. A keen baker, she is also the captain of the RN fencing team. She was presented with her Op Herrick operational medal at a special ceremony in Portsmouth Naval Base by Brigadier Bill Dunham, Deputy Commandant Royal Marines.
Surg Cdr Jason Smith RN Afghanistan OSM Jun 2013.jpg
Surg Cdr Jason Smith being presented
with his OSM for Afghanistan by Brigadier Bill
Dunham, Deputy Commandant Royal Marines

RN website said:
A Royal Navy surgeon who has recently returned home from Afghanistan has been presented with his operational medal at a special ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base. Surgeon Commander Jason Smith, aged 41 of Locks Heath, Fareham is a consultant plastic surgeon by trade and worked at Camp Bastion hospital treating both military and Afghan civilian patients...

Jason graduated from Newcastle University and then joined the Royal Navy in 1992. He was appointed as a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Derriford Hospital in 2005, and also holds the position of Senior Lecturer at the Academic Department of Military Emergency Medicine in Birmingham.