Operations in Afghanistan


Though the recent significant British involvement in Afghanistan began in 2006, forebears of the PWRR fought in all three of the previous Afghan Wars (1838-1842, 1878-1881 and 1919). In December 2001, The 2nd Battalion was on standby as part of the ‘SPEARHEAD’ Battlegroup, though rather like The Buffs in 1838, they did not deploy at that stage. This was in the wake of the dramatic terrorist actions against the United States of America on the 11th September 2001 when a number of passenger aircraft were highjacked and flown into high value targets such as the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Some individuals of the Regiment were deployed with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The 3rd Battalion also sent a platoon to Kabul in 2003.

British troops were deployed to Afghanistan for national security reasons in order to prevent Afghan territory being used by Al Qaeda as a base from which to plan attacks on the UK and its allies. For most of the period of British involvement, forty-seven nations were supporting the mission and Great Britain was the second largest military contributor, after the United States of America, with about 9,500 troops.

As the British commitment to the operation increased in scale, both regular battalions became embroiled in 2008 and 2009; The 2nd Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Doug Chalmers, nominated as the Theatre Reserve Battalion (TRB), deployed ‘A’ Company from its new home in Cyprus just before it formally assumed the role. It arrived at Forward Operating Base Edinburgh in North Helmand Province to support 16 Air Assault Brigade. They were followed by Battlegroup Headquarters and B Company who arrived in Gamsir in South Helmand to take over from 1st Bn 6th Regiment United States Marine Corps. C Company followed and went to Nad E Ali to support 3 Commando Brigade during Operation SOND CHARA, leading a battlegroup attack. This was dangerous and high-profile work and the 2nd Battalion rose to the occasion. Their professional performance and gallantry awards included two Military Crosses (MCs) awarded to Sergeant Sorensen and Corporal Spooner. The TRB commitment continued into 2009 with further deployments by Battlegroup Headquarters, A and B Company. Separately the Commanding Officer had the unenviable task of assuming command of Battle Group (Centre South) in Nad-e-Ali following the death of its commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thornloe. Elements of the 2nd Battalion had been deployed in Afghanistan over a fourteen month period supporting Operation HERRICK 8, 9 and 10.

The 1st Battalion sent B Company as Armoured Infantry to Afghanistan during six months of this period operating across Helmand Province, taking the fight to the Taliban. 2011/12 heralded another 1st Battalion deployment to the country. This time, part of The 1st Battalion formed the core of the Police Mentoring and Advisory Group (PMAG), whilst the three rifle companies had ground holding roles attached to various British battalions and the Danish Battalion (operational linkages had occurred with the Danish Army in Iraq previously). This was particularly pertinent given the close links the Regiment has with Denmark which dates back to 1689. Individuals from the reserves were evident in all the Afghanistan deployments, the last being B (Queen's) Company, The London Regiment’s contribution to The Grenadier Guards Battlegroup on Operation HERRICK 16. British combat operations in Afghanistan were completed at the end of 2014, with a platoon from The 1st Battalion serving in Kandahar as the operation drew to a close.