From Heath to Helmand: Double life of a TA rifleman

Pte Edwards

Pte Edwards

Private Miguel Edwards is a TA soldier currently serving with 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (The Tigers). He is a banker for Lloyds Bank in the civilian world but is currently serving in Afghanistan as a rifleman in an infantry company.

I joined the Territorial Army just over 3 years ago with the view to going on operations. I had always had a keen interest in the armed forces, and so I thought I would give it a go. Living in Heyward’s Heath I chose my local regiment, 3 PWRR. I wanted to do soldiering and felt the best way to achieve that was to join an infantry battalion.

Civilian to soldier learning curve

3 PWRR has 2 sister regular battalions – The 1st Battalion, based in Germany as part of 20th Armoured Brigade, and the 2nd Battalion, based in Woolwich who are part of London District. Due to these links the 3rd Battalion finds itself providing people for operational tours on a regular basis. Soon after joining I found out we would be deploying people on Op Herrick 15.

The opportunity to deploy and spend 12 months with my regular counterparts was an exciting prospect. Once my recruit training finished I moved straight into focused training for a possible deployment to Afghanistan. This is where the level and tempo of training increased dramatically.

There is no doubt that it does affect your personal life and trying to fit an increased training commitment around a civilian job is not always an easy task, however, it was something that I was prepared for. My Employer was also very onside and supportive ,which helped a lot during what can be quite a stressful time.

Techniques, tactics and procedures

The pre mobilisation training was demanding at times and designed to bring us up to speed with the latest techniques, tactics and procedures (TTPs) being employed in theatre at the moment. Alongside the increase in weekend training we also completed 2 weeks live firing in Cyprus and 2 weeks in Brecon. The 2-week camps help to focus our attention as they are a concentrated package and allow you to forget about civilian work. I often find that during weekend training you have rushed from work on the Friday, spent the weekend training and find yourself rushing about on the Sunday evening before work on Monday. During the training period it was not uncommon do 3 weekends a month in the run-up to deployment.

The paperwork for mobilisation requires us to report to the Reserve Training and Mobilisation Centre (RTMC) Chilwell to complete fitness tests and medicals before reporting to our regular unit. In my case 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.  My regular unit was very welcoming upon my arrival and I quickly found out that there is no such thing as nine to five in the forces! The training stepped up even further but I found that I was well equipped to deal with it after the intensive period of training with the TA. The biggest task was getting to know the lads that I was working with and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) particular to my unit.

Local children in Nad-e-Ali

Local children in Nad-e-Ali

‘Hey ISAF! Bis-quit?’

I am now 2 months into my tour of Afghanistan and feel I have been well equipped to deal with the challenges that I have faced so far. The pace can be relentless at times with patrols, sangar duty, jobs around camp and general admin that needs to be completed.

Providing security in Nad-e-Ali

Providing security in Nad-e-Ali

The most satisfying thing about the tour so far has been getting to know the people of Afghanistan and the feeling that we are doing some good. The local nationals now recognise us as a security force for their benefit. The children enjoy engaging with us and the constant cries of ‘Hey ISAF! Bis-quit?’ or ‘Pin?’ ‘choc-lit?’ are common on patrol. Local nationals engaging with us freely is a sign that insurgents no longer hold the upper hand. The population will happily talk to us and they don’t want IEDs or fighting the area any more.

C Company on patrol in Nad-e-Ali

C Company on patrol in Nad-e-Ali

There are some parallels between my civilian job and being a rifleman in an infantry company. I found that my training has had a multitude of uses and benefits to my civilian job and personal life so far. I will take a lot from this tour back into ‘civi street’. Whilst the two can often seem worlds apart but the skills and knowledge that I will be equipped with will serve me well in my future endeavours.

Pte Edwards

3PWRR (Att. C Company 1PWRR)

7 thoughts on “From Heath to Helmand: Double life of a TA rifleman

  1. Pingback: From Heath to Helmand – The Official British Army Blog | Light Dragoons

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