28th September 2008
Chinook lifting 1 R IRISH out of the Patrol Base during the handover to 1 RIFLES
Week 30 - Commanding Officers Notes
This is our final week in Afghanistan. It is with some relief that Patrol Bases are being handed over to 1 RIFLES and that the 1 R IRISH Battlegroup elements are returning safely - many looking a little gaunt and in need of a good meal.
The focus of late has been a thorough handover to our successors. Major Brian McNabb, the Quartermaster, his G4 team and OMLT G4 staff have worked hard to account and prepare for all of the mission essential equipment before handing it to 1 RIFLES. Individuals have been briefing their counterparts and introducing them to their Afghan equivalents. Meanwhile, Major Laverty, Capt Nelson and the OMLT 2 team have provided realistic induction training and firing exercises to acclimatise the new arrivals and prepare them for the mission. As a final reminder of the vile and constant threat, news came in of an IED which struck our final Combat Logistics Patrol en route back from Musa Qaleh. Fortunately, the injuries to Sgt Bloor were relatively minor and he should recover within 2-3 weeks.
I took my successor, Lt Col Joe Cavanagh, to Kabul for an OMLT Conference over 23-25 Sep. Lt Gen Jonathan Riley, the UK DCOM ISAF and General David McKiernan COM ISAF, the US Commanding 4 Star General, both made it clear that they very much appreciated the efforts and achievements of the OMLT Battlegroup over the last 6 months. Similarly Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, on a final visit to us in Shorabak, acknowledged the remarkable success of the boys in an immensely difficult role in Helmand.
Service held for our fallen
On Friday evening Padre Albert Jackson led a moving field service. We remembered and prayed for Ranger Justin Cupples, Cpl Barry Dempsey and Sergeant Jonathan Mathews. We thanked God for their service and sacrifice. Afterwards, we hosted General Muhaiyodin to supper along with our US partners. Gen Muhaiyodin expressed effusive gratitude for all that 1 R IRISH Battlegroup has done to improve the situation in Afghanistan.
The Commanding Officer handing over the OMLT Battlegroup role to Lt Col Joe Cavanagh, CO 1 RIFLES
On Saturday, a simple flag lowering ceremony marked the handover of the OMLT Battlegroup role to the 1st Bn The Rifles. We wish them a safe and successful tour. 1 R IRISH Battlegroup has achieved much. We have projected the ANA, and thus security, into 3 more Districts than when we arrived. The ANA's increased capability, numbers and confidence are a direct result of the efforts of 1 R IRISH. The men of the Battlegroup should be immensely proud of their record. I am.
Finally on behalf of all engaged in Op HERRICK 8, I thank you most sincerely for your support, goodwill, prayers, correspondence and parcels. Your generous supportive spirit has sustained us through testing times. For that we thank you.
E B M Freely
1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment