Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Pictures of a Parade: Welcome home 101 Logistic Brigade

It was great to see so much warmth not just from the heavens but from the great and good that had gathered to welcome home 101 Logistics Brigade today. The Mayor and other VIPs even got to pin a few medals on the extended chests of these returning troops that had served in Helmand province, Afghanistan helping communities to resist the oppression of the Taliban and live in peace.

After the parade and medal award ceremony we all gathered in the Princes Hall for refreshments with all the returning troops, where we had the pleasure to meet and talk with them and their families. The overwhelming message from every soldier I spoke to was that despite casualties, they all agreed that they were doing a valuable job and genuinely helping the Afghans, who they spoke kindly of. They were also happy with equipment and speaking to a senior officer in equipment supply I learned that new vehicles are being designed and built and will be put into theatre soon.

I came away from this parade extremely impressed with our troops, and their positive and optimistic attitude. They really are a credit to our nation, and I am so pleased we hosted this reception. I was particularly impressed with a young group of military policemen I spoke to who had gone on regular foot patrols with the infantry. They were bright, positive and sober beyond their years, a real credit to their unit and just a good and descent group of young men. We are sending out to these far away lands fine ambassadors. 

This is in stark contrast to the enquiry into 'bloody Sunday' that filled the news yesterday. It is all too easy to make judgements from the comfort and safety of a courtroom on soldiers caught in the 'fog of war' with  those they believe or fear may be terrorists. Although I fully appreciate the pain of families that loose loved ones in such a situation.

Today however, having met with some of our troops today I believe Bloody Sundays are now much less likely, and, as some wise commander recently suggested, we should start giving medals out for soldiers that are nowadays showing incredible restraint under fire.

I felt extremely privileged to meet these fine young men and women today, and feel very sad that four that should have been there were not.

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