Soldiers from the North East have travelled to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to help maintain stability ahead of the October elections.
The recently deployed Light Dragoons are part of 4 Mechanized Brigade based at Catterick Garrison.
In all 95 members of the Light Dragoons cavalry regiment deployed recently, along with reservists from the Queen’s Own Yeomanry, following the Defence Secretary’s announcement to Parliament in June that the UK would provide extra support to the EU’s peacekeeping mission in Sarajevo.
Based from Camp Butmir in Sarajevo, the soldiers of A Squadron (The Empire) have deployed to provide surveillance and monitoring support to the EU led Op ALTHEA during the forthcoming elections.
Equipped with the Jackal vehicle they are able to deploy country wide and be largely self sufficient should the need arise.
A Squadron, commanded by Squadron Leader, Maj Ben Moody, started training for the deployment in early May and arrived in country in the first week of July.
Since arriving the soldiers have spent time carrying out extra training serials and getting to know the local area. They have also been on ranges to carry out weapons checks and familiarisation shoots and have given the multinational staff a chance to look at the equipment they have deployed with.
Sergeant Major Keith Bell, 34, from Sunderland, last deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2002 and said: “It is strange to be back after such a long time but it’s been a very quick turnaround and the lads have done extremely well to get through all of the training serials.”
Since returning from operations in Afghanistan in 2012, A Squadron has been on overseas exercises in both Canada and Kenya as well as conducting training in the north and south of England.
Their deployment is a strong sign of the UK’s continued support for BiH’s security and commitment to Operation Althea, which is designed to ensure a safe and secure environment there. The British Army has been contributing personnel to the mission since it began in 2004.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Reserves Julian Brazier said: “The October elections will be an important event for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The UK contribution to the EU mission will help ensure they take place in a secure and stable environment.
“This deployment is a clear demonstration of the UK’s commitment to the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”