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3 Commando Brigade returns home from Afghanistan

Service personnel from 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines returned home to the UK on Saturday 12 April 2009 from a six-month deployment in Afghanistan, led by their Commander, Brigadier Gordon Messenger.

The 121 troops arrived at Exeter Airport to be greeted by Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, Commander in Chief Fleet, who met the Brigadier and his men at the aircraft steps to congratulate them on a job well done.

Admiral Stanhope described the Brigade's achievements as 'significant', adding that "as a consequence of the work that has been done [by 3 Commando Brigade], Afghanistan is a more governable place to be."

The Admiral continued:

"I am proud that the Royal Navy supports operations around the world, and this deployment has represented the largest Royal Naval Service contribution to land operations for many years.

"We must remember those that have been lost, we think of their families, we think of them but above all, we are proud of a job well done."

As the aircraft landed, family members waited eagerly at the airport where emotional scenes greeted them as the Commandos, wearing their coveted green berets, were surrounded by friends and family as they left the arrivals hall.

As the relief-in place continues, approximately half of the Brigade remain in Afghanistan.

"It's always lovely to have families here," said Brigadier Messenger. "But whilst I'm very happy to be back, I'm conscious that many of my men remain out there, on the ground, doing their job."

Brigadier Messenger has seen real progress since his men arrived in Helmand at the end of last year. He said:

"We've expanded the areas we operate in – it was a fight for the month of September but what we've seen since is a marked improvement in security since.

"What I have been particularly impressed with is that the Afghans really want this – this is not some Western-imposed solution.

"We need to see this as a campaign that is going in the right direction. We as brigades are mere custodians of what will be an upwards trajectory."

32 men of 3 Commando Brigade died during the Brigade's deployment. Brigadier Messenger said that is "something that will stay with me for the rest of my life."

On Friday, 10 April 2009, 3 Commando Brigade handed over command of Task Force Helmand in southern Afghanistan to 19 Light Brigade who have just started their six month tour.

14th Apr 2009

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