Soldiers from 20th Armoured Brigade were invited to the Palace of Westminster yesterday to attend a reception to mark their return from Afghanistan.
Following an invitation by MPs from the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces, the Brigade marched from Wellington Barracks, along Birdcage Walk and into Parliament Square, before attending the reception in the Palace.
At the event, Minister for the Armed Forces, Nick Harvey said:
"I was proud to have the opportunity to welcome 20th Armoured Brigade back from their tour in Afghanistan at the Palace of Westminster. We must take every opportunity to show our appreciation for their efforts and remember those who did not come home. Their sacrifices will not be in vain.
"Transition of security responsibilities in Helmand from our forces to the Afghans is on track and this is thanks, to a large extent, to the great work that was done over the course of 20th Armoured Brigade’s tour. Like those who served before them and their successors in Afghanistan today, they worked tirelessly to develop their Afghan colleagues, whilst fighting to keep up the pressure on the insurgency.
"Their aim was to propel us further down the path towards a secure Afghanistan, where terrorism cannot return – it is an aim that they achieved and which continues to be built on by the men and women of our Armed Forces deployed there today."
20th Armoured Brigade deployed to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 15 between October 2011 and April 2012 to continue the development of the Afghan National Security Forces and to assist them in working towards taking full responsibility for their country's national security and the long-term fight against terrorism within its borders. Sadly, during this highly challenging tour, 20th Armoured Brigade sustained the loss of 25 of its soldiers.
Over the course of Operation HERRICK 15, significant steps forward were made in the handing over of key security responsibilities to the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. Lashkar Gah district continued, and Nad-e Ali district began, the process of Transition to an Afghan security lead during the six-month period.
Other key achievements of the tour included 35 Engineer Regiment building the longest single span bridge since World War Two, the securing of a number of key trade routes, and the building and opening of two schools.