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Factsheet

Operations in Afghanistan: Chronology of Events, January 2011 - December 2011

Coalition military activity is summarised below, with links to more extensive briefings where available.

Operations in Afghanistan

The UK is providing a number of British military and civilian personnel in support of NATO-led military operations in Afghanistan. The UK contribution, which began in October 2001 following the terrorist attacks on the United States, has helped to bring about the fall of the Taliban regime. This subsequently paved the way for the first ever parliamentary elections in Afghanistan which took place on 18 September 2005.

British Forces, under the command of the International Security Assistance Force and along with US and other allies from the international community, continue to work with the new, democratically-elected Afghan Government to build stability and maintain security across the country.

31 Dec 11 - RAF, Royal Navy and Army Air Corps personnel conducted numerous missions across southern Afghanistan from 18-31 December 2011. Here follows an operational update.

30 Dec 11 - Private John King, 1st Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, was killed while taking part in a partnered foot patrol with Afghan National Security Forces to increase security around the village of Llara Kalay, in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

23 Dec 11 - Squadron Leader Anthony Downing, Royal Air Force, died of his wounds received on Thursday, 22 December 2011, when the vehicle in which he was travelling was caught in an explosion south of Kabul, in Afghanistan.

Nearly 1,000 British and Afghan soldiers and Afghan Police have taken part in a major operation to clear insurgents from a crucial area of Helmand province.

22 Dec 11 - Captain Tom Jennings, Royal Marines, was killed after the vehicle in which he was travelling was caught in an explosion south of Kabul, in Afghanistan.

A £400m package of protected vehicles and Counter-Improvised Explosive Device technology to further improve the protection of British Forces in Afghanistan has been announced by Defence Secretary Philp Hammond.

UK Servicemen and women in Afghanistan will enjoy an extra 1 hour and 15 minutes of talk-time to keep in touch with family and friends this Christmas.

21 Dec 11 - Prime Minister David Cameron has visited UK troops deployed to Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan to wish them a Merry Christmas.

19 Dec 11 - A third contingent of Tonga Defence Services has conducted a ceremonial handover to begin work alongside members of the RAF Police and the RAF Regiment to deliver force protection at Camp Bastion.

16 Dec 11 - Members of the RAF Marham-based 31 Squadron received their Operation HERRICK campaign medals this week in front of proud family members, friends and local dignitaries.

13 Dec 11 - A chef from the British Army has been flying around the front line in Helmand province, Afghanistan, feeding troops in austere locations using only basic equipment to produce quality meals.

12 Dec 11 - British troops and Afghan commandos have conducted a daring dawn raid under fire to target a suspected improvised explosive device factory in Helmand province.

9 Dec 11 - A team of British sappers have upgraded a crucial supply route in Helmand province to ensure that the local Afghan population can use the road throughout the winter.

8 Dec 11 - Sapper Elijah Bond from 35 Engineer Regiment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham on Thursday 8 December 2011 as a result of wounds sustained in Afghanistan.

Afghan police mentored by British troops have discovered an opium stash worth millions of pounds, along with insurgent weapons, during an arrest operation in Helmand province.

His Royal Highness The Duke of York has presented personnel from the 9th/12th Royal Lancers with campaign medals following their return from a demanding six-month deployment in Afghanistan.

5 Dec 11 - British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said that a blueprint for the international community's long-term engagement with Afghanistan beyond 2014 was established at the International Afghanistan Conference held in Bonn, Germany.

British soldiers embedded with an Afghan National Army unit recently to offer advice on a three-day operation to clear a vital supply route and search for insurgents.

British soldiers training Afghan police have hailed the success of a training course that has seen its biggest intake ever.

29 Nov 11 - British soldiers have built a checkpoint in record time to help stop the movement of insurgents in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

It is the halfway point between RAF Brize Norton and Camp Bastion, and getting troops from A to B (Akrotiri to Bastion) is one of the crucial roles fulfilled by personnel at the RAF's base in Cyprus.

28 Nov 11 - Hundreds of well-wishers have lined streets across the East Midlands to welcome the 9th/12th Royal Lancers home from a successful and challenging tour of Afghanistan.

Soldiers of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards proudly marched through Glasgow to mark their return from a tough but successful tour of duty in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

27 Nov 11 - Rifleman Sheldon Lee Jordan Steel, 5th Battalion The Rifles, serving as part of Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (South), was killed in the blast from an improvised explosive device during a foot patrol to disrupt insurgent activity in the Babaji area of the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's own forces will take lead responsibility for delivering security in a number of new areas across the country, it was announced, including the Nad 'Ali district of Helmand province where British forces operate.

25 Nov 11 - British troops provided support to the Afghan Uniform Police as they built a new checkpoint to protect the residents of a Helmand village from insurgents.

24 Nov 11 - British and Afghan soldiers launched an airborne operation into an isolated area of Helmand province which they then swept for any insurgent activity.

The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, has said in an interview that in ten years time we will all agree the war in Afghanistan was necessary.

21 Nov 11 - A Royal Navy-led team of military medics and ambulance drivers have been honoured by the Ambulance Service Institute for their efforts in treating victims of mine blasts in Afghanistan.

His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, has presented personnel from 2 Close Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers with campaign medals following their return from a demanding six-month tour in Afghanistan.

Since the conflict in Afghanistan began, operational lawyers from the Legal Services branch of the Army's Adjutant General's Corps have been travelling with brigades into all battle zones. Report by Sarah Goldthorpe.

20 Nov 11 - Private Thomas Christopher Lake, 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, serving as a part of Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (South), was a member of a joint foot patrol with Afghan National Security Forces to reassure the local population, when he was killed in an explosion from an improvised explosive device in the Jamal Kowi area of the Nahr-e Saraj district of central Helmand, Afghanistan.

18 Nov 11 - Royal Navy Sea Kings have over the last five months helped seize more than seven tonnes of drugs and stop insurgents in Afghanistan building over 1,500 homemade bombs.

1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment have seen their first class of Afghan Uniform Police graduate recently while more experienced Afghan Police working with the battalion have carried out independent operations.

A new two-part TV series starts this weekend about front line medicine and looks at how UK military medics in Afghanistan have achieved the highest survival rate of casualties in the history of warfare.

17 Nov 11 - Lieutenant David Boyce and Lance Corporal Richard Scanlon from 1st The Queen's Dragoons Guards, serving with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force, were on a patrol providing security in the Yakchal region of Nahr-e Saraj in central Helmand when their armoured vehicle struck an improvised explosive device, resulting in the death of two of its crew.

Members of the Commando Logistic Regiment Royal Marines have received their Afghanistan campaign medals from His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh following a homecoming parade in Barnstaple.

Thousands of people lined the streets of Chepstow as more than 500 members of 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES) were granted the freedom of the historic town before receiving their operational medals for service in Afghanistan.

On her recent deployment to Afghanistan, a Royal Army Medical Corps officer got involved in the drive to improve maternal healthcare in Helmand. Report by Tristan Kelly.

16 Nov 11 - Lance Corporal Peter Eustace, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, was killed by an explosion caused by an improvised explosive device while providing security in the Mirmandab region of Nahr-e Saraj, in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Thousands of well-wishers lined the streets of Exeter as more than 650 Service personnel, just returned from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan, proudly paraded through the city centre.

RAF, Royal Navy and Army Air Corps personnel conducted numerous missions across southern Afghanistan last week, 7 to 13 November 2011. Here follows an operational update.

Soldiers from A Company, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment have taken gifts to Afghan children in Helmand to help them celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid.

15 Nov 11 - British and Afghan soldiers were recently flown into an area of Helmand province which has rarely seen security forces in an attempt to reassure the local population.

14 Nov 11 - TV hardman Ross Kemp is back on TV tonight with his third documentary series from Afghanistan. This time he joins the Royal Marines of 45 Commando to mark 10 years since the arrival of British forces in Helmand. Report by Lorraine McBride.

11 Nov 11 - More than one thousand Royal Marines, Sappers and Gunners from 3 Commando Brigade paraded through Plymouth to mark their return from a successful six-month tour in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Philip Hammond made his first visit to Afghanistan this week since becoming Secretary of State for Defence and met ISAF commanders as well as front line UK troops.

9 Nov 11 - Private Matthew Thornton, 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, was killed by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Babaji in Afghanistan.

The Royal Air Force's 2 (Tactical) Police Squadron have been on parade at RAF Henlow to receive campaign medals for their recent tour in Afghanistan.

8 Nov 11 - Soldiers from 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards have survived a strike by a large improvised explosive device in Afghanistan while driving in their upgraded Scimitar Mk2 vehicle.

7 Nov 11 - Troops from 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment have been carrying out security patrols recently in a small village in Helmand province alongside members of the local Afghan Police.

5 Nov 11 - Children of 150 soldiers from 57 (Bhurtpore) Battery, 32 Regiment Royal Artillery, had more reason than bonfires and fireworks to remember the 5th of November this year as their parents returned from a six-month deployment in Afghanistan.

4 Nov 11 - Troops in Afghanistan rely on their vehicles to carry out the mission as well as to keep them safe - if anything does break down it can be a potentially life-threatening situation. It is for that reason that the Defence Support Group personnel at Camp Bastion take their job very seriously. Tristan Kelly reports.

3 Nov 11 - Private Matthew James Sean Haseldin, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, was killed when his patrol came under attack from insurgents in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, while on an operation to maintain freedom of movement for the local population.

A sailor who spent four months helping to run the field hospital at Camp Bastion has spoken about the traumatic incidents and dangers medics face on a daily basis in Afghanistan.

Personnel from 111 Provost Company, 1st Regiment Royal Military Police, have been presented with their campaign medals after returning from a demanding six-month tour in Afghanistan.

2 Nov 11 - The UK-led Anglo/American Role 3 hospital at Camp Bastion, Helmand province, has celebrated the opening of its first magnetic resonance imaging scanner centre.

1 Nov 11 - A paratrooper has received an American military honour for 'his decision, actions and calm leadership in the face of chaos' while serving alongside US Marines in Afghanistan.

31 Oct 11 - Following their return from Helmand province last month 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines paraded through London to Westminster for a reception at the Houses of Parliament.

A Royal Engineers officer has won a prestigious award in recognition of his work developing the Afghan National Security Forces.

6 Force Protection Wing, including 58 Squadron RAF Regiment, has returned safely to RAF Leuchars following a successful seven-month deployment to Afghanistan.

28 Oct 11 - RAF and Royal Navy personnel conducted numerous missions across southern Afghanistan last week, 17 to 23 October 2011. Here follows an operational update.

26 Oct 11 - Royal Marines from M Company of 42 Commando have returned home to a rapturous welcome from friends and family after a successful combat deployment in Afghanistan.

A Corps of Royal Engineers officer, recently awarded an MBE for his work, talks about his team's achievements building roads and checkpoints in Afghanistan during Operation HERRICK 13.

25 Oct 11 - The RAF's Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles are the eyes in the sky keeping tabs on the insurgency in Afghanistan. Report by Andrew Simms.

24 Oct 11 - Over 100 Highlanders from 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland were greeted to an emotional and rapturous welcome when they returned to their base this weekend from Afghanistan.

21 Oct 11 - 102 Military Working Dog Squadron has recently taken over the vital role of commanding the Theatre Military Working Dog Support Unit in Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 15.

20 Oct 11 - Defence Secretary Philip Hammond joined commanders recently returned from operations in Afghanistan yesterday as they briefed MPs and peers on the progress made during their six-month tour in Helmand province.

19 Oct 11 - Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has told Parliament that 'real and meaningful' progress is being achieved in Afghanistan and that the insurgency is under considerable pressure.

Following their return to the UK, the Brigade Commander and Commanding Officers of two of the main British units deployed to southern Afghanistan between April and September 2011 have spoken of a tour during which UK forces worked closer than ever with their Afghan partners to mutual benefit.

17 Oct 11 - Michael O'Neill, Head of Mission for the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team, speaks to Tristan Kelly in Lashkar Gah about the draw down due to complete by 2015.

15 Oct 11 - Rifleman Vijay Rai, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, was killed in by a gunshot wound when the checkpoint that he and his team were protecting in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, came under insurgent small arms fire.

14 Oct 11 - Afghan police and explosive ordnance disposal personnel have seized a truck and destroyed the contents, which included enough explosives and component parts to make over 140 improvised explosive devices.

The Royal Navy's Commando Sea King Mk4 helicopters have completed their final mission in support of Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan) and are now returning to the UK.

12 Oct 11 - Soldiers from 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland are about to leave Afghanistan having spent the last six months working and living alongside members of the Afghan Uniform Police.

A hospital in Helmand province has been completely transformed, thanks to the help of British forces.

11 Oct 11 - Over 2,000 pounds (900kg) of heroin and two bomb-makers have been intercepted in Afghanistan with the help of the Royal Navy's Sea King helicopters - known as the 'eyes in the sky'.

1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, known as 'The Tigers', has taken over responsibility for the Police Mentoring and Advisory Group in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province.

9 Oct 11 - 20th Armoured Brigade has taken over command of Task Force Helmand in Afghanistan from 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, officially marking the start of Operation HERRICK 15.

7 Oct 11 - On the 10th anniversary of the start of UK operations in Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox and Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards have reflected on the sacrifices and the progress made during the decade-long campaign.

A decade after UK Forces began operations in Afghanistan, Tristan Kelly reports from Helmand as all eyes look forward to the planned end of UK combat operations there in 2015.

A soldier from 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment has been recognised in the latest Operational Honours and Awards List for his bravery in Afghanistan which saved the life of a wounded colleague.

6 Oct 11 - RAF and Royal Navy personnel conducted numerous missions across southern Afghanistan in the week of 26 September to 2 October 2011. Here follows an operational update.

An Army officer is to receive the Air Force Cross for his 'selflessness and extraordinary professionalism' in piloting his Apache helicopter in dangerous situations to assist casualty rescue missions in Afghanistan.

5 Oct 11 - A Territorial Army engineer has been awarded a Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service for his inspirational leadership in dealing with an IED blast while building a new patrol base in Helmand province.

4 Oct 11 - An RAF improvised explosive device disposal operator who saved numerous lives during his recent deployment to Afghanistan has been awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal.

3 Oct 11 - The soldiers of B Company, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, have enthusiastically started celebrating the Hindu festival of Dashain at their spartan patrol base in Nad 'Ali, Helmand province.

30 Sep 11 - A total of 140 members of the Armed Forces have received honours and awards in the Operational Honours List dated today, 30 September 2011.

28 Sep 11 - Personnel from 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment are starting a gruelling six-month tour in Afghanistan where they will work alongside the Afghan National Army to help them prepare to fully take over security operations in the country.

27 Sep 11 - A sergeant from 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles has described his fourth tour in Afghanistan as the most rewarding yet after building strong relationships with Afghan colleagues.

26 Sep 11 - Personnel from 1 Support Regiment have begun their deployment to Afghanistan after completing a final series of last minute preparations and checks.

His Royal Highness, the Duke of Kent has paid a special visit to British soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

23 Sep 11 - Commando Gunners from 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery have helped the Afghan National Army develop patrolling, casualty-handling and searching skills to the extent that the ANA can now run checkpoints and carry out patrols on their own.

For the past few months a group of Commando Gunners have been putting the advice they received from civilian police in the UK into practice as they mentor members of the Afghan Police in Helmand.

22 Sep 11 - Soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles have been training new, elite teams of Afghan Uniform Police in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.

19 Sep 11 - Marine David Fairbrother, 42 Commando Royal Marines, was killed whilst providing support to an Afghan National Army patrol in the Khorgajat area of the Nahr-e Saraj (South) District of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when they came under small arms fire from close range.

14 Sep 11 - Lance Corporal Jonathan James McKinlay, 1st Battalion The Rifles, was killed by a gunshot wound whilst on patrol in the village of Haji Khodin Nazar, in the Nahr-e Saraj (South) district of Helmand province, Afghanistan.

13 Sep 11 - A ground-breaking ceremony has taken place in Loy Mandeh Kalay in Afghanistan, after Royal Marines from 42 Commando worked for months to make it safe.

With the help of 45 Commando Royal Marines, a friendly football match between two amateur teams from neighbouring villages has taken place in Zarghun Kalay in the Nad 'Ali district of Helmand province.

12 Sep 11 - Osprey body armour and ballistic protection saved the lives of two British soldiers when they came under attack in southern Afghanistan.

Soldiers from 24 Commando Engineer Regiment have trained a team of Afghan National Army troops in how to carry out major infrastructure projects without ISAF help.

Last week, to celebrate Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan, the Afghan National Army hosted an event for local elders in Helmand and invited their Royal Marines mentors from 42 Commando along too.

6 Sep 11 - A Royal Engineers team is helping local Afghans in Lashkar Gah build a future beyond 2014 by offering advice on a range of projects vital to the security of the area. Report by Ian Carr.

5 Sep 11 - On a recent visit to Afghanistan, the MOD's Ian Carr spoke to local journalists who informed him that the Afghan Government is making a difference.

2 Sep 11 - Keeping the wheels turning on vehicles of the 45 Commando Royal Marines Battle Group in the Nad 'Ali (South) area of Helmand province is a team of military engineers. Report by Ian Carr.

A Pashto-speaking RAF Engineering Officer has spent the last few months working as an interpreter for the Military Stabilisation Support Group in Helmand.

31 Aug 11 - A team of musicians from the Band of HM Royal Marines Portsmouth are in Afghanistan, where they have been touring the British area of operations and entertaining the troops of 3 Commando Brigade.

30 Aug 11 - Sergeant Barry John Weston, from Kilo Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, was killed in the Sukmanda area of Nahr-e Saraj (South) District of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, while on a foot patrol to disrupt insurgent activity when he was fatally injured by an improvised explosive device.

Soldiers from B Company, 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, have finished their six-month deployment to Afghanistan, becoming the first members of Task Force Helmand to return home from Operation HERRICK 14.

The Commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, General John Allen, visited British troops working in Task Force Helmand last week.

UK troops in Afghanistan have begun operating a satellite secured from NATO at no extra cost to the MOD which is providing extra communications channels for commanders on the front line.

26 Aug 11 - During their current deployment to Afghanistan, the RAF's 31 Squadron is aiming to raise £31,000 for charity by running, cycling or rowing 31,000 miles (50,000km).

25 Aug 11 - A Territorial Army soldier whose day job is a builder and part-time farm worker has put his skills to use improving living conditions for his fellow soldiers on the front line of Helmand province.

Money and information are two things that matter a lot to the military commanders in charge Operation HERRICK, and it's the job of MOD civil servants deployed to Helmand to provide that information and keep a close eye on the purse strings. Report by Ian Carr.

24 Aug 11 - 75 members of the Royal Navy are currently providing nearly 80 per cent of the front line medical cover in Helmand province in support of 3 Commando Brigade's six-month deployment on Operation HERRICK 14.

Engineers from 33 (Engineering) Squadron have been recognised for the work they do supporting the RAF's C-130J Hercules fleet at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

23 Aug 11 - A group of soldiers whose task it is to clear routes in Helmand province of improvised explosive devices recently emerged from their Mastiff armoured vehicle unscathed when a device exploded underneath it.

22 Aug 11 - Afghan forces, supported by British troops, have uncovered more than four tonnes of illegal fertiliser, which is used by insurgents to make homemade explosives and improvised explosive devices.

The Afghan Uniform Police has taken part in its first helicopter assault operation in Helmand province, alongside soldiers from 1st Battalion The Rifles.

18 Aug 11 - Highlander Mark Purves was amongst the first soldiers to secure an area in Helmand recently where one of the biggest finds of improvised explosive devices this summer was made by British forces.

The Royal Navy's airborne surveillance and control helicopters in recent months have helped seize and destroy over five tons of Taliban drugs with a 'street value' in excess of £6m.

17 Aug 11 - Military medic Tanya Wilson has swapped the wards of the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth for the front line in Afghanistan where, for the past five months, she has been accompanying Royal Marines on patrol.

Since the start of Operation HERRICK 14 in April this year, the Military Stabilisation Support Group in Helmand province has helped with a number of projects that have directly benefited people's lives.

16 Aug 11 - Helmand's Provincial Governor, Gulab Mangal, has officially opened the new bridge at Checkpoint Salaang, which was built by the Task Force Helmand Engineer Group as part of Operation OMID HAFT.

15 Aug 11 - Musicians and buglers from the Royal Marines Band Service took a break from driving ambulances in Afghanistan to entertain their fellow British troops with a traditional 'last night of the proms' style concert.

Royal Marines recently played Afghan National Army soldiers in the inaugural match of the newly-formed football league of Rahim Kalay, a small farming community previously ravaged by fighting and terrorised by insurgents.

12 Aug 11 - Lieutenant Daniel John Clack, from 1st Battalion The Rifles, was killed by an improvised explosive device while on a patrol in the Shaparak area of the Nahr-e Saraj (South) district of Helmand province.

11 Aug 11 - Sappers from 39 Armoured Engineer Squadron, part of the Task Force Helmand Engineer Group, have built a new command post, named Kahmanan, in the village of Nahr Khil, Helmand province.

Throughout the fasting period of Ramadan the Afghan National Army are still working hard with the help of their British mentors to ensure that the local population in Helmand remains safe and protected.

10 Aug 11 - Sapper Vasilis 'Taz' Tzanetis is the lead searcher in an elite team of Royal Engineers on 24-hour call to seek out improvised explosive devices in Helmand province.

9 Aug 11 - The Commander of Task Force Helmand said today that ISAF forces are maintaining momentum and have very much suppressed the fighting season this year in Helmand province as local people talk of the future.

With government structures in place the UK-led Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team is concentrating on training and mentoring members of the district councils and line management, its head said.

The men and women of 1 Medical Regiment have completed an arduous series of exercises in Germany designed to prepare them to treat injured soldiers during their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

A church for Service personnel in Afghanistan has been fitted with some colourful new windows, thanks to a group of schoolchildren from Plymouth.

8 Aug 11 - Busier with Marines' stubbed toes than bullet wounds on her latest Helmand tour, medic Major Jennie Johnston is now giving health advice to local Afghans. Report by Ian Carr.

An RAF airman's blog about his current deployment in Afghanistan has notched up 80,000 hits, and had an article written about it on the BBC news website.

5 Aug 11 - Marine James Robert Wright, from Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, serving as part of Combined Force Nad 'Ali (North), was killed in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.

Various MOD personnel from soldiers to the Ministry of Defence Police are helping move the Afghan Police from soldiering over to community policing. Report by Ian Carr.

4 Aug 11 - A state-of-the-art new shot detection system called Boomerang III has been introduced in patrol bases and checkpoints on the front line of Helmand province to alert troops immediately to the source of incoming fire.

Fusiliers who deployed to Helmand as battle casualty replacements with 16 Air Assault Brigade received their Afghanistan operational medals during a parade at their Tidworth barracks.

3 Aug 11 - Lieutenant General William B Caldwell, the Commander of the NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan, has spoken of the progress being made in training the Afghan National Security Forces, and the plans to develop leadership within them.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, deployed to Nad 'Ali (South), are taking part in community activities more than actual fighting after finding significant progress in the level of security in the area.

2 Aug 11 - Royal Engineers from 59 Commando Squadron have completed construction of an Afghan Local Police station in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand province.

A two-year-old black Labrador military search dog is back on the Helmand front line sniffing out improvised explosive devices after having recovered from serious injuries sustained during a battle with insurgents.

1 Aug 11 - After 80 days in Afghanistan, the Operation HERRICK 14 Warthog Group has travelled a distance equivalent to circumnavigating the world.

Three months into their current Helmand deployment, soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles are using their language skills to build relationships with their partners in the Afghan National Security Forces and Afghan locals.

29 Jul 11 - Since responsibility for security in the town of Lashkar Gah was taken over by Afghan forces last week, soldiers from The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, alongside Afghan security forces, have been further strengthing security on the outskirts of the district.

A British Bomb Disposal Expert has disposed of over ten Taliban improvised explosive devices, thereby helping locals return to their village in the Nad 'Ali area of Helmand Province.

After winning a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics, Lieutenant Tom Lucy has finally achieved his childhood dream of becoming a Royal Marine.

28 Jul 11 - Two Royal Engineers are currently bringing the wealth of their vast military experience to southern Afghanistan, to help Helmand's civilian population build for its future.

27 Jul 11 - A Gurkha soldier who received a Mention in Dispatches for bravely holding off an insurgent ambush on an Afghan National Police patrol two years ago is back in Helmand once again.

26 Jul 11 - 'As we prepare for security transition, the military element is not the most important part of our contribution to Afghanistan,' writes Chief of the Defence staff, General Sir David Richards.

Working with the Royal Marines during a recent operation to clear a key route in Helmand of improvised explosive devices was an RAF woman who is part of the Military Stabilisation Support Team.

25 Jul 11 - Two members of the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Task Force have spent two full days making safe an IED factory found by British soldiers in the Nahr-e Saraj area of Helmand province.

Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey recently visited the RAF personnel who fly the Reaper Remotely Piloted Air System over Afghanistan from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, USA.

22 Jul 11 - The head of the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) says he is impressed by the progress being made by Royal Marines from 42 Commando in Nad 'Ali (North), after visiting villages in the area.

Treading the deadly paths of Afghanistan to uncover bombs that would otherwise kill their human colleagues, dogs have become an essential asset in conflict. Report by Joe Clapson.

21 Jul 11 - There were emotional scenes at RAF Lossiemouth this week as the 13 crews and 110 engineers of 617 Squadron, 'The Dambusters', were welcomed home from Afghanistan by their families and friends.

20 Jul 11 - British troops have formally handed the lead responsibility for security to Afghan forces in the capital of Helmand province today, a significant milestone in a process of transition that will continue to 2014 and beyond.

The Royal Navy's Sea King Mk7 Force completed their 1,000th operational mission in Afghanistan.

19 Jul 11 - The UK's Brigade Reconnaissance Force, in partnership with Afghan forces, has seized and destroyed a tonne of homemade explosive in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

18 Jul 11 Corporal Mark Anthony Palin, 1st Battalion The Rifles was killed by an explosion from an improvised explosive device in the Nahr-e Saraj (South) District of Helmand Province.

A new memorial to the fallen gunners of the Royal Artillery was dedicated at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

16 Jul 11 - Lance Corporal Paul Watkins 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's) was killed in the Nahr-e Saraj District of Helmand Province whilst conducting a routine framework patrol with members of the Afghan National Army.

15 Jul 11 - Royal Marines have recently helped cleared explosive devices from a key route in Helmand, allowing vital access for coalition forces and locals.

14 Jul 11 - A British soldier has had a miraculous escape after the strap of his helmet was shot off during his first patrol with his new unit in Helmand province.

Providing UK troops on the front line in Afghanistan with advice on anything from what fertiliser may be used to make Taliban bombs to how the latest bomb-proof pants are working out is MOD scientist Matt Simpson. Report by Ian Carr.

13 Jul 11 - 20th Armoured Brigade will replace 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines in October 2011 as the lead formation of British troops in Helmand province, Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox has announced.

Army Education Officers are helping Gurkhas currently deployed to Afghanistan develop their education. Report by Ian Carr.

12 Jul 11 - Soldiers from A Company, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, have struck a blow to the insurgency in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

International Security Assistance Force instructors are teaching members of the Afghan National Security Forces the fundamentals of identifying and countering improvised explosive devices on a new course at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province.

11 Jul 11 - A Company from 45 Commando Royal Marines handed over the keys to Checkpoint Meelet in Nad 'Ali (South), Helmand province, to the Afghan Uniformed Police last week.

8 Jul 11 - They are halfway through their tour in Afghanistan and 45 Commando Royal Marines are looking to ensure that the recent period of relative peace in Nad 'Ali (South) continues. Report by Ian Carr.

Royal Marines from 42 Commando, working with their Afghan National Army colleagues, have turned what was expected to be an offensive operation into a bridge-building exercise with the local community, as insurgents fled.

7 Jul 11 - During the 68th anniversary year of 617 Squadron's famous 'Dambusters' raid in the Ruhr Valley the squadron is once again on active operations, this time supporting ISAF troops out of Kandahar Airfield.

6 Jul 11 - The UK's Armed Forces will lead a new Afghan National Army Officer Training Academy, to be based just outside Kabul, Prime Minister David Cameron announced.

The UK will be able to reduce its force levels in Afghanistan from 9,500 to 9,000 by the end of 2012 Prime Minister David Cameron announced.

5 Jul 11 - The UK's Prime Minister David Cameron has travelled to Afghanistan this week where he met British troops at Camp Bastion in Helmand province and held a meeting with Governor Mangal.

4 Jul 11 - Highlander Scott McLaren, D Company, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, initially reported missing from an ISAF checkpoint was later found dead following an extensive search of the area.

Two Royal Marines from 45 Commando, who were badly injured in Afghanistan, are back on duty in Helmand, thanks to the excellent medical treatment they received both in theatre and back in the UK.

A Royal Navy rating recently found herself, rifle in hand, defending a small checkpoint in Helmand province, as a Royal Marines patrol under attack from insurgents was returning to safety.

30 Jun 11 - A shura was recently held in central Helmand between local elders and religious representatives of the Afghan forces, Royal Marines and Gurkhas all currently working together in the area.

29 Jun 11 - RAF aircraft, crews and other personnel provided vital support to the recent Operation OMID HAFT (Hope Seven), an Afghan-led campaign to rid the area around Nahr-e Saraj of insurgents.

A secret insurgent training school and a huge haul of deadly insurgent bombs have been destroyed by British forces in Helmand following a daylight helicopter assault and intense fire fight.

A key aspect of the Royal Marines' mission in Afghanistan is winning the confidence of the local population, and this effort is being greatly enhanced by the deployment of Female Engagement Teams.

28 Jun 11 - Less than a month after British and Afghan forces launched a major operation against insurgents in Helmand's Nahr-e Saraj district, locals there are benefiting from improved security and freedom of movement.

27 Jun 11 - Newly-upgraded Warrior vehicles have saved the lives of British soldiers within weeks of arriving in Afghanistan.

24 Jun 11 - The UK's Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has paid tribute to the skills and sacrifices of British troops serving in Afghanistan during a visit to the country this week.

An infantry soldier currently serving in Helmand province has written in his latest blog about a battle with insurgents that lasted six hours, disrupting an enemy shura.

23 Jun 11 - The British Prime Minister and Chief of the Defence Staff have both welcomed the announcement that the US will be withdrawing 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year.

Good progress is being made towards security transition in Helmand's provincial capital Lashkar Gah, Foreign Secretary William Hague said this week in the latest monthly report on progress in Afghanistan.

22 Jun 11 - British forces working alongside Afghan soldiers have uncovered a sophisticated improvised explosive device factory hidden in a compound in Helmand.

Soldiers from the 9th/12th Royal Lancers and their Afghan colleagues have, since March, been helping to keep one of the busiest and most important roads in Afghanistan open.

21 Jun 11 - The RAF's youngest female pilot, Flying Officer Emma Atkinson, is currently training Afghanistan's first female Air Force helicopter pilots in a small office tucked away in a corner of Kabul's airport.

20 Jun 11 - Working 14-hour days in kitchens where temperatures reach 60 degrees Celsius, chefs from 42 Commando Royal Marines are producing up to 900 meals a day for troops at a patrol base in central Helmand.

18 Jun 11 - Private Gareth Leslie William Bellingham, 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Staffords), serving as part of Combined Force Nahr-e-Saraj (North), was killed when fired upon by insurgents whilst providing security during a patrol in an area near Khar Nikarin in the Upper Gereshk Valley, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

16 Jun 11 - Corporal Lloyd Newell, The Parachute Regiment, was fatally wounded by small arms fire while on operations in Helmand province in Afghanistan.

Craftsman Andrew Found, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, serving with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, was killed in an explosion while on an operation near Adinza'i in the Gereshk valley area, within the northern Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox has visited British forces in Helmand province as they prepare to begin the process of handing over substantive security responsibilities to their Afghan counterparts in Lashkar Gah.

Royal Marines from Zulu Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines, have this month been working with Afghan soldiers and local police in Nad 'Ali (South) to provide greater security and stability in the area of Zaborabad.

15 Jun 11 - Afghan helicopter pilots hone their skills in live-firing exercises on ranges near Kabul.

14 Jun 11 - British troops distributing aid in Kabul say it's helping them to improve security in the Afghan capital.

As part of the ongoing effort to improve the lives of people living in Helmand, British soldiers have held a shura to teach locals farming and veterinary skills, and educate them on the dangers of improvised explosive devices.

British troops at Camp Bastion have recently spent some of their downtime running a marathon for charity, pulling a 20-tonne Ridgback armoured vehicle.

13 Jun 11 - Just over a week after British and Afghan forces launched a major operation into an insurgent stronghold in Helmand, the local community is embracing their newly-liberated village and looking to the future.

10 Jun 11 - A brother and sister in the Royal Air Force have found themselves serving together for the first time, at Camp Bastion in Helmand province.

9 Jun 11 - Major General Nick Pope, who has recently taken over as the Chief of the Defence Staff's Strategic Communications Officer, briefed members of the media on the situation in Afghanistan.

Deploying on operations is par for the course for the military, but for civilians it is a completely different ball game. Leigh Hamilton reports.

8 Jun 11 - The RAF Air Traffic Controllers at Camp Bastion, the main UK base in Helmand province and the UK's fourth busiest airfield, have recently moved into a new state-of-the-art control tower.

7 Jun 11 - After a series of joint patrols with soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, Afghan Uniformed Police have taken control of Checkpoint Shingul, located in the Chah-e Mirza district of Helmand province.

6 Jun 11 - The Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, US General David Petraeus, recently visited Royal Marines and their Estonian coalition partners at a patrol base in central Helmand.

5 Jun 11 - Lance Corporal Martin Joseph Gill, 42 Commando Royal Marines, deployed with his Multiple as part of a patrol in the area of Adensee in the Nahr-e Saraj (South) district in Helmand province, was hit and fatally wounded, and, despite being administered immediate first aid, tragically died of his wounds.

Rifleman Martin Jon Lamb, 1st Battalion The Rifles, was killed by an improvised explosive device while on a patrol in the Haji Kareen area of the Nahr-e Saraj (South) district in Afghanistan.

3 Jun 11 - Corporal Michael John Pike, A Company, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, deployed with his multiple in the area of Pupalzay along the main route of Highway 601, was leading the patrol in a contact with a group of insurgents when he was killed in action.

Hundreds of local interpreters are employed by coalition forces in Afghanistan and are vital in helping British forces forge the important relationships with the Afghan communities they are working with.

The fifth-year anniversary of the start of British operations in Helmand province recently passed. Ian Carr looks at the key moments between then and now.

2 Jun 11 - While on patrol in Helmand last week, Lance Corporal Ryder of 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment witnessed a Warrior armoured vehicle trigger an IED, and the soldiers on board escape without serious injury.

1 Jun 11 - Colonel Andrew Jackson, the Deputy Commander of Task Force Helmand, welcomed a new Estonian Company to Camp Bastion this week.

31 May 11 - The Brigade Reconnaissance Force has helped their Afghan partners undertake an operation in an insurgent stronghold of Helmand that has resulted in a substantial weapons find and a number of insurgents being detained.

British forces from all three Services have supported hundreds of Afghan soldiers in carrying out a major operation to clear insurgents from one of their last remaining strongholds in central Helmand.

27 May 11 - Lieutenant Oliver Richard Augustin and Marine Samuel Giles William Alexander MC, both from Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, were killed by an improvised explosive device whilst on patrol in the Loy Mandeh area of the Nad 'Ali district in Helmand province in Afghanistan.

Afghan Uniformed Police, with the help of British units, have destroyed more than 800 kilos of explosives which have been seized in recent operations in the Lashkar Gah area of Helmand province.

24 May 11 - The Brigade Reconnaissance Force, made up of the recently reintroduced 30 Commando Royal Marines, has identified and raided a compound in Helmand, uncovering drugs, weapons, ammunition, documents and other insurgent equipment.

The Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment has been awarded a top Estonian military honour for his part in leading the ISAF partner nation's forces in Afghanistan. Report by Lorraine McBride.

23 May 11 - Colour Serjeant Kevin Charles Fortuna, A Company, 1st Battalion The Rifles, was killed by an improvised explosive device while on a patrol in the Sayedabad Kalay area of the Nahr-e Saraj (South) district of Helmand province.

British soldiers in Helmand have completed a three-day operation to disrupt insurgent activity in a Taliban stronghold in the Upper Gereshk Valley where a series of British casualties occurred.

A British Army vet has begun a six-month tour of Afghanistan where she is travelling all around Helmand province running veterinary clinics for Afghan farmers.

20 May 11 - A new film about a World War Two mission by Royal Marines from 30 Commando to capture Nazi secrets is released in UK cinemas today as 30 Commando embark on their first operational tour since then.

The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, has paid a surprise visit to British forces serving in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

British and Afghan soldiers have taken part in a volleyball tournament in Helmand province to get to know each other better and enjoy time off from the rigours of patrolling.

18 May 11 - Two Roll Over Drills Egress Trainers, armoured hulls kitted out just like a real vehicle that can be completely rotated, are teaching troops in Camp Bastion how to survive if their vehicle hits an IED.

17 May 11 - Members of 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Afghan National Police have taken part in a five-day operation in the Lashkar Gah area of Helmand province.

Prime Minister David Cameron informed the House of Commons Liaison Committee that around 400 UK military personnel had already, or would early in the New Year, leave Afghanistan.

Within Helmand, levels of insurgent activity have remained particularly low over the last month compared to previous periods, the Foreign Secretary William Hague said in the Government's latest monthly progress report on Afghanistan.

15 May 11 - Marine Nigel Dean Mead, Lima Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, was killed by an improvised explosive device while involved in an operation to search a compound in the Loy Mandeh wadi area of the Nad 'Ali (North) district of Helmand province.

12 May 11 - Hundreds of new Afghan National Army recruits, or 'warriors', have sworn loyalty and allegiance at their new training centre in Helmand province.

10 May 11 - The first Afghan Uniformed Police Officers have graduated from the British-run Regional Training Centre (South West) in Helmand province, which has now passed out its 3,000th recruit.

British soldiers and civilians working in Helmand province have taken on the local cricket team in a match designed to improve relations between the UK military forces and the local population they are working amongst.

9 May 11 - More than 700 kilogrammes of dry opium has been seized by Afghan forces working alongside British troops in Helmand province.

A British soldier who serves with the Joint Support Unit at Camp Souter, the main ISAF base in the Afghan capital Kabul, has set up a boxing club for Afghan youngsters.

6 May 11 - After arriving in Helmand last month, Royal Marines from 42 Commando are showing they have a firm handle on security in the Shahzad area and are building links with the local population through regular shuras.

5 May 11 - Royal Air Force Corporal Darren Adams and his younger Army brother Wayne recently enjoyed a few precious hours together when they found themselves at Camp Bastion in Helmand province at the same time.

4 May 11 - A search operation in an area thought to be a Taliban safe haven has been carried out by soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles in their first major operation since recently arriving in Helmand province.

1 May 11 - Parties were thrown by British troops serving in Afghanistan this weekend to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

30 Apr 11 - The official opening ceremony of a new training centre for Afghan troops in Helmand province took place.

28 Apr 11 - A team from the MOD's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory has recently deployed to Afghanistan to help shape future NATO operations there.

Home from their tour in Helmand's Nad 'Ali (South) area, the soldiers of 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment have praised their partners of the past six months, the Afghan security forces. Report by Ian Carr.

Royal Marines serving in Helmand have taken time out from their busy schedule partnering members of the Afghan National Army on operations to teach them how to play rugby.

27 Apr 11 - The UK Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, and Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, have met with their American counterparts in Washington to discuss current operations including Libya and Afghanistan.

Members of the Afghan National Army recently completed their first local liaison 'solo' patrol amongst settlements near their base in Helmand province, with RAF police officers providing additional security.

26 Apr 11 - The last personnel from the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland to return from their six-month deployment to Afghanistan arrived home.

20 Apr 11 - Feeding an average 4,000 hungry mouths five meals a day, every day, in the sweltering heat of the Helmand desert is a mammoth task, but the Forces' combat chefs consistently rise to the challenge.

Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox has visited the soldiers of 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster's Regiment as they receive their Afghanistan medals in Cyprus.

19 Apr 11 - Captain Lisa Jade Head from 321 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron, 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, deployed on an operation to clear improvised explosive devices the Nahr-e Saraj (South) District of Helmand Province has died from injuries received when one of the devices detonated on Monday, 18 April 2011.

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox has welcomed the announcement by the New Zealand government that they will maintain their Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan province until 2014.

The importance of 2011 to Afghanistan's future was highlighted by representatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence, and Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team, at a press conference in London.

The Head of the Afghan National Army has visited the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, returning 43 years after his graduation from the world-famous institution.

17 Apr 11 - As thousands were competing in the London Marathon, a British soldier who was told by doctors he may never run again was taking part in his own race around a military base in Afghanistan.

15 Apr 11 - A Herculean road building project which has dominated the work of thousands of British troops for more than a year is now complete, linking Helmand's two economic hubs and the isolated communities between them.

As Prince William gets ready for his wedding, members of his former squadron in the Household Cavalry Regiment have been out on patrol in Afghanistan.

For many, completing this Sunday's London Marathon will be achievement enough in itself, but spare a thought for a soldier, once told that he would never run again, who will, this Sunday, attempt to run a marathon in Afghanistan, in full body armour.

14 Apr 11 - Following the recent return of 16 Air Assault Brigade from their six-month tour of duty in Helmand province, Commanding Officer Brigadier James Chiswell has said the success of this campaign has left the insurgency increasingly fractured and demoralised, and, as a result, has less of a grip on the local community.

UK and Afghan forces, led by British troops from 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, are helping reopen a bazaar of more than 100 shops in the Helmand town of Chah-e Anjir, once too dangerous for local trade due to the insurgent threat.

Australian Gunners who 'fired side by side' with the British Artillery in southern Afghanistan have received their campaign medals during a ceremony at Colchester's Merville Barracks.

12 Apr 11 - Pilots and aircrew from the Commando Helicopter Force recently got to see their helicopters from an enemy perspective when they were allowed to target aircraft with Taliban weaponry.

Crowds of thousands in Shrewsbury gave a warm welcome to soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, recently returned from a six-month tour in Afghanistan.

11 Apr 11 - British soldiers battling the Taliban in Afghanistan will get better protection from attacks by insurgents thanks in part to the teamwork shown by the RAF and the Australian Defence Force.

Afghan soldiers working alongside British forces have dealt a heavy blow to the insurgency in central Helmand by discovering a deadly stash of bomb-making equipment and weaponry, including 50 improvised explosive devices.

9 Apr 11 - 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines took command of Task Force Helmand in Afghanistan, officially marking the start of Operation HERRICK 14.

8 Apr 11 - The RAF's Remotely Piloted Air System, the Predator MQ-9 Reaper, has notched up a landmark 20,000 operational flying hours over Afghanistan.

7 Apr 11 - An international team of doctors and nurses is keeping on top of trauma treatment at Camp Bastion hospital in Afghanistan with help from teams in Birmingham and York. Report by Ian Carr.

6 Apr 11 - Thanks, in part, to the efforts of an RAF police officer there has been a six-fold increase in the disruption to narcotics production in Helmand province in the last year.

Last week, twenty-two female Service personnel received training from the UK's Military Stabilisation Support Group and the Stabilisation Unit in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan as part of Female Engagement Teams.

5 Apr 11 - British Female Engagement Teams are advising Afghan women on how working together can create future prosperity. Report by Ian Carr.

4 Apr 11 - The Afghan National Police in Helmand have taken a further step in their continuing development after receiving first aid training from medics of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

A veterinary outreach programme in Nad 'Ali is one of a growing number conducted by the Royal Army Veterinary Corps designed to help farmers and livestock owners living in the remote corners of Helmand province, Afghanistan.

1 Apr 11 - Supporting operations is all in a long day's work for MOD civilians who like their desks a little nearer to the action. Report by Ian Carr.

31 Mar 11 - Colour Sergeant Alan Cameron from 1st Battalion Scots Guards died as a result of wounds he received in Afghanistan on 13 April 2010.

Three British Army medics serving in Afghanistan's Helmand province have begun teaching their skills to a group of Afghan nurses, who will form the basis of a pioneering new ambulance service.

30 Mar 11 - The Army is making sure that while soldiers are on operations in Afghanistan they are receiving the education they need to progress and develop, with dedicated education officers taking lessons to the front line.

British soldiers and US Marines have been working closely for the past six months to improve the capability of the Afghan National Police.

29 Mar 11 - Two British Sergeants who served closely with the Estonian Company in northern Nad 'Ali, Helmand province, for six months have been awarded with the Estonian Army Silver Cross of Merit.

Afghan children in Helmand's Nad 'Ali district have been flocking in their droves to a boxing club opened by Shropshire-based soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment.

28 Mar 11 - Soldiers of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards have further stamped their authority on an insurgent-occupied area of Helmand's Nahr-e Saraj district, after defying enemy fighters to launch a confident reconnaissance mission.

The commitment and heroism displayed by members of our Armed Forces in Afghanistan last year was recognised in the Operational Honours List published last Friday.

25 Mar 11 - A total of 136 members of the Armed Forces have received honours and awards in the Operational Honours List dated today.

A paratrooper has raised more than £1,200 for charity after running a marathon around his base in Helmand province in his body armour while carrying a general purpose machine gun (GPMG)!

24 Mar 11 - The National Army Museum at Chelsea hosted the Operational Honours and Awards ceremony (List Number 36) where 28 of the 136 servicemen and women being honoured were praised by Commander Field Army, Lieutenant General Barney White-Spunner.

British soldiers working alongside Afghan Police to clear insurgents from a contested area in Helmand's Lashkar Gah district have survived a well-organised attack to turn the tables on their assailants.

23 Mar 11 - Major Matthew James Collins and Lance Sergeant Mark Terence Burgan from 1st Battalion Irish Guards were killed by an improvised explosive device after returning from an operation in support of an Afghan National Army Company, alongside C Company of the Danish Battle Group, to disrupt insurgent activity and search compounds of interest in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province in Afghanistan.

British troops operating in one of the most contested areas of Helmand province are celebrating the success of the first major mission to be carried out, independently, by the Afghan soldiers they train.

A new crossing built by the Royal Engineers, which fords one of southern Helmand's largest waterways, has proven to be a major success with commuters, providing a lifeline to rural communities.

22 Mar 11 - Foreign Secretary William Hague and Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox have welcomed today's announcement by President Karzai of the start of security transition in Afghanistan.

21 Mar 11 - Afghan police officers trained by British soldiers have rescued a young boy held hostage by two insurgent kidnappers.

Pulling a Chinook helicopter along the ground in a race against time is not something that would normally happen in Afghanistan, but for this year's Red Nose Day RAF personnel flexed their muscles to support the cause.

18 Mar 11 - Private Daniel Steven Prior, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, injured by an improvised explosive device blast on Wednesday, 16 March 2011, whilst taking part in a patrol to investigate insurgent activity in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, died from his wounds in the Queen Elizabeth NHS Hospital in Birmingham.

17 Mar 11 - Troops from the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment and the Irish Guards serving in Afghanistan marked St Patrick's Day in Helmand.

The RAF's newest C-17 aircraft has completed its first operational mission to Afghanistan, delivering essential supplies to the front line.

British bomb disposal experts successfully disposed of a roadside bomb this week which had been brought to them by local villagers.

Corporal Jamie Williams from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, is based in Patrol Base Attal on Route 601 near Lashkar Gah. Here he writes about how the Taliban is losing the support of the local population.

16 Mar 11 - The only medic stationed at the small camp of Tapa Topche, more commonly known as Artillery Hill, outside Gereshk in southern Helmand, is providing essential medical training for Afghan soldiers.

15 Mar 11 - The Commanders of ISAF troops in Helmand province, where the vast majority of UK personnel deployed to Afghanistan are working, gave a briefing on progress made over the last 12 months.

A village previously seen as a failure in the eyes of Helmand's people has been retaken, regenerated and repopulated in an ongoing operation led by British paratroopers, supported by 80 bomb disposal specialists.

British soldiers and their Afghan National Army counterparts have overseen the clearance of numerous wrecked vehicles from a major route in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

14 Mar 11 - 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment has conducted a huge air assault operation in Helmand province, overwhelming an insurgent safe haven and leaving the enemy unable to respond.

Service personnel based at Headquarters Task Force Helmand in Lashkar Gah have taken part in a half-marathon relay race around their small base.

11 Mar 11 - A major multinational exercise held at Camp Bastion has demonstrated how International Security Assistance Force combat vehicles are recovered in the event of breakdown, being bogged down or being disabled by enemy action in Afghanistan.

Soldiers from Alpha Troop, 244 Signal Squadron, 21 Signal Regiment (Air Support) received their Afghanistan Operational Service Medals earlier this week, after returning from a successful six-month deployment in support of the Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan).

10 Mar 11 - Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox and Foreign Secretary William Hague have issued statements following reports that Iranian-made weapons destined for the Taliban have been seized by UK Special Forces.

A British-trained hero of the Afghan National Army showed the true grit and courage of the Paras who coached him when he shrugged and carried on fighting after he was recently shot.

9 Mar 11 - Lance Corporal Stephen McKee, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, deployed on an operation to disrupt insurgent activity was killed in the Nad 'Ali district of Helmand province, Afghanistan

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, are the latest soldiers to help Captain Joanna Lowe of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps improve Afghan farmers' livelihoods.

8 Mar 11 - A mother who usually works as a paediatric nurse at Tayside Children's Hospital in Dundee is spending six months working on the front line in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

7 Mar 11 - Afghan National Army Gunners have marked the end of five months of training alongside British troops with the first multinational partnered live firing exercise to take place in Helmand.

4 Mar 11 - Soldiers from The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, have extended their security reach in Helmand's Lashkar Gah district by opening up a new checkpoint.

Soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment recently discovered a large Taliban weapons cache during a patrol in the Nawabad desert area of Helmand province.

3 Mar 11 - British and Afghan soldiers have recently been helping to improve the public health of the local communities in which they work in southern Nad 'Ali, Helmand province.

During a patrol in the Upper Gereshk Valley this week, soldiers from the 1st Battalion Irish Guards visited a newly-built school to see the positive effects of their aggressive assaults on the Taliban.

2 Mar 11 - The first ever District Community Council elections in Marjah have taken place just a year after Operation MOSHTARAK was launched by ISAF and Afghan forces.

1 Mar 11 - Lance Corporal Liam Richard Tasker, Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was killed whilst deployed on operations in the Nahr-e Saraj district, Afghanistan.

A fortnight of heavy rain across parts of Helmand province has seen British troops offer assistance to locals worst hit by the weather.

28 Feb 11 - Locals in the northern Nad 'Ali area of Helmand province are being taught life-saving skills to spot Taliban bombs, thanks to an education programme organised by British paratroopers and their Afghan National Army colleagues.

Colonel Gerhard Wheeler from the Royal Welsh regiment was the Deputy Commander of Task Force Helmand throughout 2010. Here he reflects on the battles, losses and progress he witnessed.

26 Feb 11 - The 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment Battle Group has mounted the largest air assault operation in the history of the regiment since 1945, when soldiers from the regiment landed on the east bank of the Rhine during World War Two.

24 Feb 11 - Soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh returned to their base in Tidworth, Wiltshire, after a successful six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

Estonian soldiers serving alongside members of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment in Helmand province took a brief break from their duties to celebrate their own country's liberation - achieved 93 years ago.

An Emergency Medical Technician in the Territorial Army has swapped the comfort of driving his private ambulance in Norfolk to work at a checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Fuel is a premium asset to troops, especially when the battle tempo is high. Getting it delivered to the patrol bases in Nad 'Ali presents its own challenges. Report by Ian Carr.

23 Feb 11 - Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox has welcomed the announcement by the Danish Government of an agreed way forward for its troop contribution in Afghanistan over the next two years.

Helping to channel the Afghan warrior spirit into a professional fighting force is the UK's Brigade Advisory Group. Report by Ian Carr.

22 Feb 11 - Afghan forces have carried out the largest air assault operation undertaken in over a year in central Helmand to disrupt insurgent activity in the villages of Malgir and Kopak, in the Nahr-e Saraj district.

The General in charge of ISAF forces in Helmand has spoken about the province's progression from a Taliban-controlled area to a civil, functioning society one year after Operation MOSHTARAK was launched.

21 Feb 11 - Working with the British soldiers who run the Helmand Police Training Centre are a handful of MOD Police who are passing on their expertise to the fledgling Afghan force. Report by Ian Carr.

18 Feb 11 - Getting the bullets, beans and bandages, not to mention ballistic underpants and bulldozers, from Camp Bastion to the various Forward Operating Bases of Task Force Helmand is the work of 13 Close Support Logistic Regiment. Report by Ian Carr.

The Reverend Robin Richardson, currently deployed to Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, here reflects on some of the experiences his soldiers face on the battlefield and the benefits of talking.

17 Feb 11 - An RAF Tornado GR4 crew on a surveillance mission was diverted to launch an air assault on Taliban fighters who had ambushed UK troops on patrol in Helmand.

15 Feb 11 - Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox has delivered the latest Government quarterly update on Afghanistan to Parliament, highlighting the growing force levels and ability of Afghan security forces as the key to progress.

14 Feb 11 - Privates Robert Wood and Dean Hutchinson from the Royal Logistic Corps were killed in a fire at Camp Bastion, in Afghanistan. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Lance Corporal Kyle Marshall, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, was killed while deployed on an operation to reassure and provide security for the population in an area in the south of the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province in Afghanistan.

The head of the NATO Training Mission in Kabul spoke about the achievements made so far in building up effective Afghan National Security Forces and what improvements needed to be made next. Report by Ian Carr.

The Minister for International Security Strategy, Gerald Howarth, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, Chief of the Air Staff, have visited Afghanistan to talk with British forces personnel.

Theo, a Springer spaniel cross who holds the record for finding the most improvised explosive devices and weapons in Afghanistan, has had his tour extended due to his amazing success.

New lightweight ration packs which feature easy to carry new menus that can be eaten quickly whilst on patrol have arrived on the front line in Afghanistan.

10 Feb 11 - The nascent Afghan Air Force has reached a milestone in its capabilities by achieving 2,000 hours of flight time in the C-27 Spartan transport aircraft.

An insurgent bomber, caught red-handed laying deadly improvised explosive devices, is facing a life of imprisonment after a British soldier from the 1st Battalion Irish Guards gave chase across a minefield to catch him.

9 Feb 11 - Private Lewis Hendry, from 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, and Private Conrad Lewis, from 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment, were killed when their patrol came under fire in a small village north of the Nahr-e Bughra Canal in Afghanistan.

A MOD police officer recently returned from a six-month mission to train Afghan National Police recruits says she is optimistic about the future of the country.

8 Feb 11 - Security and governance have been brought to a previously contested area east of Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, following the first operation in the district to have been entirely planned and led by the Afghan National Police.

Work is underway to build a new road which will form an important transport link for locals in an area of Helmand province where security is provided by British troops.

A new portable bridging system procured by Defence Equipment and Support is helping British troops on operations to more easily cross obstacles in their paths.

7 Feb 11 - Lieutenant Jonny Mortimer-Hendry from D Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, on his first tour of Afghanistan, is leading his team in northern Nad 'Ali, to partner and help develop their Afghan counterparts.

A purpose-built workshop for the in-theatre maintenance and repair of UK military vehicles was recently opened in Camp Bastion, southern Afghanistan, by Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox.

5 Feb 11 - Warrant Officer Class 2 (Company Sergeant Major) Colin Beckett, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, was killed by an improvised explosive device which detonated as he was moving into position to cover his fellow patrol members in Shaheed, a village on the Nahr-e Bughra canal in Afghanistan.

4 Feb 11 - Ranger David Dalzell, from 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, was killed as a result of an operational accident while working at Checkpoint Ranger in Nad 'Ali, Helmand province, Afghanistan.

A group of Afghan children have helped British troops repair a collapsed bridge and get the southern Nahr-e Saraj area of Helmand moving again.

The RAF Regiment has conducted its first patrols with members of the Afghan National Army and the Kandahar Air Wing.

3 Feb 11 - A recent joint operation by British and Afghan forces has helped clear two villages of insurgent activity in the Nad 'Ali region of Helmand province, extending the area of freedom and security for local people.

British Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox has welcomed the announcement that the New Zealand Special Air Service deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan, will be extended for another year from April 2011.

The musician sister of a British paratrooper who lost his life in Afghanistan in 2008 recently made a pilgrimage to her brother's Helmand memorial during a brief tour of Afghanistan.

Having suppressed insurgent activity in an Afghan village with frequent joint patrols, British and Afghan troops are now handing out kite kits to local children to help build relationships with the community.

2 Feb 11 - During a recent 2 PARA Battle Group operation in the area of Nahr-e Saraj (South), the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment's Mastiff Group conducted a joint operation with their Leopard tank counterparts in the Danish Army.

An area of Helmand, once known as a hotbed of insurgent activity, has adopted a very different air - with its community now coming together through the medium of cricket, aided and encouraged by soldiers from the Royal Irish Regiment.

1 Feb 11 - A hero Afghan soldier has saved countless lives by fearlessly disposing of a series of deadly roadside bombs - all thanks to his British training.

Three soldiers, Guardsman Terry Brazier, Private Dan Faulkner and Private Luke Whylie, describe the challenges of fighting in Helmand's battlefields.

31 Jan 11 - Steadily improving security provided by the Afghan National Police, supported by troops from 2 SCOTS, in the Lashkar Gah area of Helmand province has enabled a significant boost to education in the town.

2 SCOTS and Afghan troops have cleared and secured a town with no resistance, a sign seen by many to show the increasingly-weakened state of the Taliban insurgency in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

28 Jan 11 - Afghan National Police who are being mentored by Delta Company of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, have mounted an operation in which insurgent influence was crushed.

The Commanding Officer of a Woodbridge-based Army unit currently deployed in Afghanistan has paid tribute to the town, praising the local community as 'the envy of many a regiment'.

27 Jan 11 - The versatility, skill, determination and courage of troops in Afghanistan have been the stuff of history the Commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan said this week in an open letter to all troops.

At Camp Bastion's MOD-owned water bottling plant, civilian contractors supply UK and other ISAF forces across Helmand with clean drinking water - sourced from the desert. Report by Ian

26 Jan 11 - British soldiers and the Head of the District Stabilisation Team show MOD reporter Ian Carr the various development projects they are helping to set up with Afghans in Nad 'Ali following the clearance of the Taliban from the area.

After clearing insurgents from Naqilabad Kalay in Helmand last year, soldiers from 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment have returned to the town to recruit the next generation of police officers.

Troops from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment have begun a 'DIY-SOS-style' makeover of their new home in Helmand province.

25 Jan 11 - Private Martin Simon George Bell, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, deployed on an operation in the Nahr-e Saraj district to provide security to the local population, was killed in Afghanistan when he was hit by an explosion.

Having cleared the Taliban out of Helmand's 'Red Wedge', British soldiers are now working with military and civilian stabilisation experts to help the locals build their future. Report by Ian Carr.

24 Jan 11 - In a stark diversion from his traditional role, a Company Sergeant Major in Helmand is helping his unit to talk through any problems they may have and overcome any mental health issues.

British troops are helping the residents of an Afghan village make a public show of defiance against insurgents who once terrorised their community by hanging bunting of the Afghan national flag in the streets.

The Afghan First Deputy Minister of Defence, Enayatullah Nazari, met with members of the Grenadier Guards to thank them for their hard work and sacrifice during their deployment to Afghanistan.

21 Jan 11 - British troops and Afghan police have taken advantage of a tip-off from local people to raid a bomb factory in what was once a Taliban stronghold.

Another 200 police officers are about to begin patrolling the towns and villages of Afghanistan's Helmand province following the latest graduation from the British-run Helmand Police Training Centre.

Members of Parliament from the House of Commons Defence Select Committee have visited Afghanistan's Helmand province to find out about the work of British forces there.

20 Jan 11 - British troops are helping with the rejuvenation of the once-thriving Helmand town of Chah-e Anjir by creating a secure environment and now providing a practical boost to the economy.

19 Jan 11 - More than 100,000 new state-of-the-art lightweight SA80 rifle magazines have arrived in Afghanistan to be used by troops fighting on the front line.

The success of a recent operation in Helmand led by British-trained Afghan National Army warriors has led the Commander of Task Force Helmand to say that the insurgents are under pressure with local confidence now to reject intimidation and put trust in the state.

18 Jan 11 - A newly-built police station has been opened this week in Chah-e Anjir, a key town in the northern Nad 'Ali district of Helmand province.

17 Jan 11 - British soldiers marked a security success this weekend by facilitating a district governor's shura - a traditional Afghan public meeting - in the previously troubled town of Showal.

The transition of security responsibilities from British to Afghan forces has taken a big step forward, with the closure of a UK-run checkpoint.

14 Jan 11 - A team of British Army bomb disposal specialists have found and rendered safe 12 improvised explosive devices during one operation in Afghanistan.

Already in 2011 British-trained Afghan Police in Helmand province have conducted numerous operations which have seen dozens of insurgents killed or arrested, the destruction of Taliban weapons, and a raid on an IED factory.

13 Jan 11 - British-trained policemen in Afghanistan's Helmand province have extended their influence to a new area and detained five suspected poppy famers in a joint operation with British troops.

Investment from the Provincial Reconstruction Team and the Military Stabilisation Support Team has seen a school in Nad 'Ali fully restored, with 600 pupils now being taught there every day.

12 Jan 11 - British-trained Afghan National Police in Helmand province are becoming increasingly independent and professional, according to senior UK military and civilian officials speaking in London.

In the past week soldiers from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment have used their Mastiff vehicles to escort veterinary teams and engineers around the dangerous Loy Adera region of Helmand province to assist the Afghan Government in looking after its people.

11 Jan 11 - Troops from the Tonga Defence Force have deployed for the first time to southern Afghanistan and commenced security duties with RAF troops at Camp Bastion in Helmand province.

As progress in Afghanistan continues British artillery guns are firing less than on previous deployments but Gunners like Jonathan Long remain ready to support troops on the ground 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

10 Jan 11 - Royal Engineers working along with US Army engineers have replaced a bridge on a key route in Helmand province which was recently destroyed by an insurgent bomb.

Troops from 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment have begun working with a new unit of Afghan National Army warriors who arrived at their base a few days ago.

7 Jan 11 - An Army education officer or 'schoolie', deployed to Afghanistan to teach British forces, is using her spare time to run special lessons for Afghan troops too.

A novel fundraising idea saw a British officer start his New Year running from the jaws of a deadly attack dog at Camp Bastion in southern Helmand province.

6 Jan 11 - A major milestone has been reached in the ongoing process of transferring security from British to Afghan forces in Helmand with the graduation of the 2,000th recruit from the province's police officer training college.

Just before Christmas British troops based in Afghanistan's Helmand province saved the life of a local boy, injured in an accident.

How do you recruit local people in conflict zones to work for the British Army? Major Robbie Whitfield talks about a very different war for talent.

5 Jan 11 - A significant offensive operation, which takes the independence and self-sufficiency of British-trained Afghan forces to a new level, has begun in central Helmand.

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox kicked off 2011 with a visit to troops in Afghanistan to see for himself the progress being made towards handing over security responsibility to the Afghan Government.

Gunner Carl Jordan has twice been shot in the line of duty, and both times would almost certainly have been killed by the insurgents' rounds had he not been wearing the British forces' latest issue Osprey body armour.

Being a doctor based at a patrol base in Afghanistan can present various challenges ranging from the run-of-the-mill common colds, coughs or sprains to the more extreme conditions including trauma injuries or gunshot wounds.

4 Jan 11 - Two British bomb disposal operators at the forefront of the fight against deadly improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan have been passing on their skills to Afghan police - so they can take forward the battle for peace and security in their own land.

Families driven from three Helmand villages by Taliban activity are returning home after a successful operation by British soldiers and their Afghan allies.

1 Jan 11 - Private Joseva Saqanagonedau Vatubua, B Company, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, was part of a deliberate company operation to target known enemy firing positions to the North of the village of Saidabad Kalay, Afghanistan, when he was killed in an explosion which is assessed to be the result of an improvised explosive devise placed in the wall of a compound.

As midnight struck to usher in the New Year in Afghanistan, British troops were continuing their work across Helmand province to stabilise the security situation and, ultimately, protect Britons back home from the threat of terrorism.

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