A KENYAN desert will be used as a mock ‘theatre of operations’ for soldiers who could soon be deployed to Afghanistan.
1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) arrived in the Kenyan province of Nanyuki near Mount Kenya two weeks ago and are training for another month.
The regiment, based in Catterick, North Yorkshire but recruited from Cheshire, are likely to be deployed to Afghanistan on a fresh tour of duty in the near future.
There are 11,000 UK troops posted in Afghanistan and their roles vary from peacekeeping to patrolling the numerous provinces and defending communities against Taliban insurgents.
Rigorous training is required and the 1st Battalion are already being put through their paces in the East African state in preparation.
Reporter Will Harris has flown out to the training camp and will accompany the regiment over the next week whilst they carry out strategic training manoeuvres as part of their expedition known as Exercise Grand Prix.
He will meet and talk to soldiers recruited from Cheshire about the day to day challenges they face, their hopes and fears for the future and their pride in serving for a regiment whose distinguished history can be traced back to The Little Roodee in 1689.
Nanyuki, which is near the equator, offers the tough terrain and sweltering temperatures needed to adapt to Afghanistan’s harsh climate.
1st battalion were on tour in Iraq last summer and patrolled Basra, Baghdad and Unnqhusar port.
They regularly carry out training exercises in Canada and Belize.
An MoD spokesman said the regiment’s training in Kenya was all part and parcel of the Army’s thorough approach to future operations.
He said: “We send our soldiers all over the world for many different reasons”
“All of this is training towards the likely deployment to Afghanistan and that is forefront in their minds.”
The regiment recently paraded through Chester to exercise its freedom bestowed by the council last year.
The former Cheshire regiment merged with the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters and the Staffordshire regiments in September 2007.