Bexhill soldier set to return to Afghanistan

A BEXHILL soldier is training in Canada in preparation of his brigade's deployment to Afghanistan next year.'¨Lance Corporal Simon Piper, 25, a tank operator and troop lance corporal with the Queen's Royal Hussars is due to deploy next autumn to Helmand province. This will be the second tour to Afghanistan for the former Bexhill High student who has previously served in Iraq.

Simon said he is looking forward to deploying again: “I’ve been there before so I know what to expect. Everyone knows their job and we work well.
“On my last tour in Afghanistan I was mentoring the Afghan National Army, which wasn’t the typical war-fighting job but it’s an important job and I got a good insight into the ANA which I think will help on this next deployment.”
As part of his military training, Simon is currently on exercise in Canada for a new hybrid exercise to train soldiers for future operations that British Forces may encounter. This consists of mixing heavy armour, infantry and artillery assets whilst working in an environment that puts them against a free thinking opposition force and insurgents, as well as having civilians in the middle to add to the realism.
For the soldiers this means nights out in the arduous Canadian prairies living out of their kit-bags with limited wash facilities for days and weeks at a time – just as they would in a contemporary operating environment such as Afghanistan.
But Simon said such hard training is essential for what lies ahead in Afghanistan: “This training is giving me confidence in the soldiers I command. Obviously I know that my drills and skills are good, I train hard, but now I’m watching my lads and I know that they know exactly what I know and we are all singing off the same song sheet. It sounds a cliché but that’s exactly how it has got to be. Everybody has got to know their job however junior or senior they are. This training is perfect for that. It’s not operational training, but its very close to it.”
The soldiers of QRH will undertake specific Afghanistan pre-deployment training later in the year and next year in the run up to their deployment.
Simon has had first hand experience of being next to a vehicle that hit an IED (Improvised Explosive Devise) in Iraq and admits that the impending tour is not without its concerns:

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“I’ve been in the Army long enough now to know that the job is dangerous and Afghanistan is particularly bad for IED’s and mine strike so that is probably the worst thought going through my mind right now about going out there.
“I know the blokes I work with, and myself, know our job, but you can’t fight against IEDs and mines. You’ve only got to stray out of that safe zone for a second and that’s you, lost a leg or dead, so that’s probably my biggest worry about going to Afghanistan.”
Simon is due to return to his base in Germany after the exercise in Canada in November.