Page last updated at 11:07 GMT, Saturday, 6 September 2008 12:07 UK

TA troops ready for Afghanistan

TA soldiers
The 80 TA soldiers are part of 3 Commando Brigade

Part-time soldiers from across the South West are ready to leave for a six month deployment to Afghanistan.

The 6th Battalion The Rifles, which recruits from Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset, will be based in Helmand Province.

The Territorial Army (TA) soldiers will help protect Camp Bastion, the main Army base in the region.

Capt Mark Salisbury, a Liskeard policeman, said: "We're as ready as we can be."

There's quite a bond between all the lads
Rifleman Andy Price

"We now look forward to getting into theatre in a year that is symbolic of the commitment of the TA - its 100th anniversary," he said.

"Training has included live field firing of all weapons, a mission rehearsal exercise and taxing confirmatory manoeuvres in the east of England.

"I know we are good to go."

The TA represents about a quarter of the British Army's total manpower.

The 80 soldiers form Corunna Company - a part of 3 Commando Brigade.

'Real opportunity'

Lt Col Tom Mereweather, the battalion's commanding officer, told BBC News operational duties appear to encourage more recruits.

"I do think a lot of young men are joining the TA primarily because we are going on operations and they see there is a real opportunity to go and do something," he said.

The deployment will be Rifleman Andy Price's third tour of duty.

"There's quite a bond between all the lads because a lot of us have been on tour before," said the forester from Weymouth, Dorset.

Meanwhile, about 150 troops from 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, based at RMB Chivenor, will also deploy to Afghanistan on Sunday for a six months tour with 3 Commando Brigade.

TA troops mark 100th anniversary
20 Jun 08 |  Cornwall

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