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Afghanistan looms for the Welsh Cavalry



afghanistan loomsSITTING in the back of the army land rover, I am driven through the rough and rugged terrain at the Castlemartin firing range, which is used frequently for training exercises by various regiments of the British army.

Today however we have been invited to observe over a hundred soldiers from the Queens Dragoon Guards as they take part in a 36-hour operation, which consists of various tasks and exercises. The sheer determination and fitness of the soldiers is evident in their energetic and prompt responses to adverse situations, which have been cleverly elaborated and manufactured to recreate the real life scenarios of modern warfare. The regiment are likely to be deployed to Afghanistan sometime in May for possibly 6 months or longer and will be presented with various obstacles and potentially dangerous and hostile situations, so the necessity to prepare them to deal for the unexpected is paramount for them to complete their tasks safely and effectively. All members of the vehicle crews are expected to make decisions on route selection for the vehicle as well as assisting with target acquisition and the decision on whether to fire or not, which is ultimately down to the vehicle commander.

Wooden cutouts with the painted faces of Middle Eastern men have been placed strategically around the range to prepare the frontline soldiers for ambushes, while small explosives, which produce, loud bangs are hidden in the grass verges to recreate the effect of an I.E.D (improvised explosive device). Once the devices are detonated the countless hours of training comes into play as soldiers retaliate with return fire at the wooden cutout targets, panic stricken faces run towards me in an attempt to restore order and bring the situation under control. Live rounds are fired and the scenario seems very real indeed. Captain Rupert Robinson tells The Herald the aims and objectives of the operation:

“The exercise is progressive, initially confirming soldiers’ ability to fire their personal weapons accurately before progressing to more complicated shoots, culminating in more complex scenarios where soldiers in section, troop and squadron-sized groupings undertake live fire ranges with support from mortars and airborne assets.”

Some of those involved will have previous Afghan experience – in 2008, 2009 and 2011/12 –although for some troops this will be the first time they have trained for an operational tour so the experience is invaluable and potentially lifesaving for them with some soldiers having only joined the Army last year.

For Lieutenant Corporal Scott Roystonhalpin from Carmarthen, this will be his second tour of Afghanistan and is all too aware of the dangers that lay ahead.

“I have been trained to an advanced standard as a gunner which leaves me exposed and vulnerable at the top of a battle tank, but I have been trained by the best army in the world so fully comprehend the risks”

He also explains the physicality requirements of a British Soldier serving in Afghanistan

“I lost three stone on my last tour. The conditions are extreme, from 40 degree heat in the day to freezing temperatures at night it certainly takes it’s toll on your body, both physically and mentally”.

Once the range package is complete the QDG will conduct a second exercise in Thetford the following week. The troops will return to home base in Sennelager, Germany, where they will take part in simulated training prior to returning to the UK to carry out other exercises in preparations for a likely operational tour. Left tenant Colonel William Davies reiterates the importance of the British Military presence in Afghanistan

“We are essentially deployed to restore order to the country, one of our objectives for example is to carry on training the Afghan National Army to operate at a brigade level so we can feel comfortable in the knowledge that they can carry on our work once we leave”

The past 50 years have been busy for the Regiment which has seen active service in Borneo, Aden, Lebanon, the 1991 Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, the 2003 Iraq War, two further tours of Iraq and, most recently, deployments to Afghanistan in 2008/09 and 2011/12.

QDG was awarded the Freedom of Cardiff in 1985. Hopefully 2014’s tour of Afghan will be a safe and successful tour for the regiment and will allow them to accomplish their tasks and objectives.

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Council to showcase services at County Show



THE SHOW IS BACK – and following a two-year absence, this year’s event will be the first open to the public since 2019.
As a celebration of rural life in the county, the show is the perfect platform to engage with both local communities and visitors.
This year, the largest county agricultural show in Wales, will be held over two days, on 17 and 18 August – and the Pembrokeshire County Council is attending the event to highlight the work they undertake, support available and the employment opportunities they have to offer.
To ensure the Local Authority provides information on a wide range of our services, this year our Social Services team are in a stand-alone marquee, enabling people to visit a one-stop-shop of support.
We will also give visitors the opportunity to join us in the corporate marquee to engage with Cabinet Members, the Chief Executive and a whole host of interesting and innovative projects happening across the county.
Pembrokeshire County Council Chief Executive Will Bramble said: “Our teams are excited about engaging with the public and having the opportunity to demonstrate what they do – and highlight the wealth of support available along with the wide range of career opportunities we have to offer.
“This will be my first Pembrokeshire Show as Chief Executive and I am looking forward to engaging with the rural and wider communities of this fantastic county.
“The Pembrokeshire Show is the perfect platform to celebrate the amazing produce we have to offer – and to meet new and old friends. Please come and visit our marquees and discover more about the support available and the transformational projects we are doing, which will improve the lives of our communities and visitors. I look forward to meeting you at the show.”
Among those joining the team will be the Broadband project, the Haverfordwest Regeneration work and the fascinating ongoing archaeological dig exhibition with Dyfed Archaeological Trust. Visitors will also get the chance to engage with Cabinet Members who will attend across the two-day event.
In the Social Services marquee will be Foster Care, Carers Support and the recruitment team who will be able to discuss how you can start your career in social care, and join the team making a real difference to the lives of people in our communities.
Cllr Paul Miller: Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Place, the Region and Climate Change, added: “The County Show is a well-loved and important celebration of rural life in Pembrokeshire, and we are delighted to be part of the event once again this year. Our staff and members will be chatting to lots of people from communities’ right across Pembrokeshire: please do drop into our stands and say hello – we’re looking forward to meeting you.”

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RNLI help firefighters control island blaze



ST DAVIDS lifeboat volunteers provided support to local fire crews tackling a wildfire on Carreg Fran off Porthlysgi beach on Monday, (Aug 8).

The fire on Carreg Fran Porthlysgi beach is suspected to have started from the remnants of wild camping on the island.

St Davids fire service requested the assistance of the all-weather lifeboat Norah Wortley to transfer staff and equipment following reports of people swimming to the island in an attempt to extinguish the blaze.
Seven fire crews used a featherweight pump and hoses to douse the island with sea water in an operation lasting over seven hours.

This is the second time St Davids lifeboat volunteers have been called to wildfire concerns at Carreg Fran within the last month.

Despite earlier attempts to control the fire, the islands’ peat surface has continued to smoulder.

Will Chant, RNLI Coxswain for St Davids RNLI lifeboat, said: “St Davids fire station requested our logistical help to safely transport their crew and equipment to Carreg Fran.

“We stood by in support whilst the fire crew tackled the wildfire.

“Despite their best efforts, the fire reignited the next day, so we urge members of the public not to attempt to access the island as they are putting their own lives at risk.”

Since the start of summer, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue have attended 280 grass fires that have either been started deliberately or were accidental.

Richie Vaughan-Williams, Arson Reduction Manager, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Its everyone’s responsibility to protect our countryside from wildfires.

“Many of the fires are set deliberately but some occur through negligence or boredom.

“This is frustrating when our fire crews can then get detained for hours in difficult conditions trying to stop the damage, meaning that they are then sometimes delayed in attending other emergencies.”I would encourage everyone to consider their actions when enjoying the countryside and avoid lighting fires at all.

“We need to work together to support our communities, to ensure the safety of our family and friends, neighbours, members of the public and our Emergency Services.”

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Pembrokeshire County Council issues dog boarding kennels warning



PEMBROKESHIRE dog owners and those visiting the County with their pets are being reminded that any individuals offering to board their dogs must be licensed by Pembrokeshire County Council.The message comes from the Council’s Animal Health and Welfare Team following an increase in ‘dog boarding’ advertising on Facebook.
Cllr Michelle Bateman, Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services, said: “While we enjoy the summer, we want to remind all dog owners, whether you are a resident or in Pembrokeshire for a holiday, that those offering to accommodate your dog must hold a licence from the Council.
“This is required by law under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963, whether it be in a home, kennels or a day care environment, and is irrespective of the period of time required.”
All dogs must also be up to date with their vaccinations, which includes Kennel Cough.
The Animal Health and Welfare Team would also like to advise dog owners to be diligent when engaging dog walking only services to ensure that those offering

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