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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
More marines head for Afghanistan
Royal Marines training in Scotland
The Royal Marines have been training in Scotland
More than 100 Royal Marines from 45 Commando have left their Arbroath base to join their colleagues in action in Afghanistan.

The men set off from the Condor base on Tuesday after receiving a send-off from piper Roddy Munro.

Troops from 45 Commando's Whisky and Zulu Companies and support groups are currently trying to flush out Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.

Marines in training
The troops have left their base at Arbroath
Hundreds of Royal Marines have been working with US and Afghan troops in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan in recent days.

They are thought to have been targeting an area just south of the Tora Bora mountains near the border with Pakistan - where the US carried out an intensive bombing campaign in December.

But the marines have yet to come into contact with any opposition fighters during their search in terrain 9,000ft above sea level.

The 45 Commando companies were stationed on HMS Ocean before going into action.

They will now be joined by 130 men from the brigade's Yankee Company - the first troops to head directly from Arbroath to Afghanistan.

The commandos travelled to RAF Brize Norton, near Oxford, before flying out to take part in the mission.

Intensive training

More Royal Marines, from the X-Ray Company, will leave Arbroath to join them in the coming days.

They have been putting the finishing touches to their training over the last few weeks.

This has included intensive training in the Scottish mountains, where the commandos have been climbing Munros while carrying kit weighing an average of 100lb.


The Royal Marines have been specifically selected for this role because we specialise in operating in the mountains

Major Willie Hannah
Major Willie Hannah, 43, serves with the Arbroath-based Logistic Company, which will join the operation with the X-Ray Company.

He said the training in the Scottish mountains would help prepare the men for the task.

"I think everyone has a bit of nervous apprehension as we don't know how the conflict will develop," said the father-of-two.

"But we have got to have belief in our own capabilities and belief in the capabilities of the people supporting us.

"We will be very much taking the battle into their backyard but the Royal Marines have been specifically selected for this role because we specialise in operating in the mountains."

'Fully prepared'

He admitted that it had been an "emotional rollercoaster" for the commandos' families.

"The men have spent the last couple of weeks carrying out final training exercises, while also spending time with their families," he said.

"We are now fully prepared for this mission and will put all the training into action once we arrive in Afghanistan."


I would be lying if I didn't say there was a great deal of trepidation among the men, but there is also an eagerness to get on with the job

Captain Roger Stringer
The troops will have up to two weeks to acclimatise to the conditions in Afghanistan, which can see temperatures reaching 42C during the day and falling to freezing at night.

Around half of the 1,700-strong British battle group - which is built around the 650-strong 45 Commando - are already in the country.

Speaking before he left Arbroath, Captain Roger Stringer, 26, said: "It's certainly, from a professional point of view, potentially a very rewarding opportunity and gives us the chance to practice what we have trained for and work in an environment we have trained for.

"I would be lying if I didn't say there was a great deal of trepidation among the men, but there is also an eagerness to get on with the job."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Colin Wight reports
"In all, about 800 soldiers from the Arbroath base will be involved"
See also:

16 Apr 02 | South Asia
UK troops sweep Afghan valley
19 Mar 02 | Scotland
Arbroath's military men
03 Apr 02 | South Asia
UK marines 'face tough challenge'
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