THE 1st battalion Mercian (Cheshires) has moved into its operational base in Helmand.
Soldiers from Malta Company, 1st Battalion the Mercian Regiment have taken over control of Patrol Base One in Malgir, south of the town of Gereshk in Helmand Province from the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards.
The company’s operating area for the next six months was cleared of insurgents by ISAF during operation Panchai Palang in the summer of 2009.
In the run-up to the handover, Guardsmen from the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards and soldiers from 3 Yorks, who have been working in the area, have been carrying out joint familiarisation patrols of the region with 1 Mercian.
Of particular importance has been the handover of many of the reconstruction and military assistance projects running in the joint Afghan National Police and ISAF checkpoint along the Nahri-e-burghri canal.
Lieutenant John Sanderson, 1 Platoon Commander, Malta Company, 1 Mercian said: “The purpose of the patrol was two-fold. On the one hand, it was to familiarise those of us who are taking over from the Company at Patrol Base One and, secondly, it was a patrol to reassure the local population and dominate the ground in order to deter insurgents from infiltrating this area.
“The big thing for us though, is time on the ground and interacting with the local people. For me and my men, success will be based on the effect we have on the population here.”
Members of 1 Mercian will spend the next six months working in partnership with Afghan soldiers to provide continued security across the region, so projects such as the building of a medical centre and permanent school can take place. Working alongside them will be a Brigade Advisory Group from 1 Royal Ghurkha Rifles who will be training the Afghan National Army soldiers based at Patrol Base One.