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Major's pride as Royal Irish train Afghan soldiers

By Rebecca Black

A senior Royal Irish soldier has spoken of his troop's pride at their progress in training local Afghans to defend their country.

Speaking at the Ulster soldiers reach the half way point of their six month tour in Kabul, Major Graham Rainey, commanding officer of D Company, said they have made impressive progress in their mission.

"Our focus will soon be on the Afghan Graduation Parade for the next generation of commissioned Afghan Officers to pass off and take up their place in the front line against the insurgent threat," he said. "Behind the scenes, we are all working hard to ensure not just the success of this main event, but to ensure that we find continual improvements."

In December the Royal Irish took over duties as the Kabul Protection Unit, providing security, training and support for their partners and allies in Afghanistan.

The 600-strong battalion is based around three locations - the army academy, the city centre and the airport.

In their latest letter from Kabul, they have detailed some of their latest activities which include Airbourn Reaction Force training in the city, using a Puma helicopter to deploy quickly on to the ground.

Ranger Keogh said he enjoys guard duties as he likes getting to interact with locally employed people, adding that as well as work they get some time off to relax by watching films or going to the gym, but while he said it has been a good experience he is looking forward to coming home to see his partner and family.

Major Rainey added that the troops are looking forward to celebrating St Patrick's Day, which he said will be marked "appropriately" despite being some 5,000 miles from home.

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