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21 août 2013 3 21 /08 /août /2013 11:35
Service personnel at a flag ceremony at Camp Bastion to mark the relocation of Task Force Helmand [Picture: Sergeant Barry Pope, Crown copyright]

Service personnel at a flag ceremony at Camp Bastion to mark the relocation of Task Force Helmand [Picture: Sergeant Barry Pope, Crown copyright]

19 August 2013 Ministry of Defence


The headquarters of UK military forces in Afghanistan has moved from Lashkar Gah to Camp Bastion in an early morning helicopter operation.


The move, which was completed on 9 August, has been hailed as probably the most complex headquarters move on operations ever undertaken by the British Army.

Task Force Helmand (TFH) headquarters has been based in Lashkar Gah since May 2006, co-ordinating UK operations across Helmand province for over 7 years. The headquarters has now moved to Camp Bastion, the main hub of UK forces in Afghanistan.

The move reflects the fact that Afghan security forces now plan and conduct their own operations across the province and the UK military presence outside Camp Bastion is consequently in the process of drawing down.

Headquarters staff during the move
Headquarters staff from 1st Mechanized Brigade moving from Lashkar Gah to Camp Bastion [Picture: Sergeant Barry Pope, Crown copyright]

The UK Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, said:

The growing capability of the Afghan security forces our troops have trained is allowing us to reduce the number of UK forces in Afghanistan this year – and the relocation of HQ Task Force Helmand from Lashkar Gah to our main base at Camp Bastion marks a key milestone as we draw down. By the end of next year the UK’s combat operations in Afghanistan will be over.

In a carefully planned operation, key staff from the headquarters – which is led by the British Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade – flew via Chinook to Camp Bastion in the early morning of 9 August 2013 to join an advance party already in place. A series of helicopter moves throughout the day ferried the remaining staff over to ensure the transition of control was seamless. Control was formally handed over to the new headquarters at around 10am local time the same morning.

A short ceremony was then held in memory of those members of the Armed Forces who have lost their lives on operations in Afghanistan.

The new Task Force Helmand headquarters building
The new Task Force Helmand headquarters building at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan [Picture: Sergeant Barry Pope, Crown copyright]

Brigadier Rupert Jones, Commander TFH, said:

The brigade headquarters move was seamless, both operationally and technically, thanks to the hard work of a great many people both here in Helmand and also right across Defence. It represents probably the most complex HQ move on operations ever undertaken by the British Army.

The move of the headquarters from Lashkar Gah is a significant moment in the campaign and reflects the progress made by the Afghan security forces and that they are now in the lead for security across Helmand. The move is in line with our progressive lift off from the Afghan security forces.

The move brings to an end a significant chapter in the British Army’s history with the headquarters at Lashkar Gah having controlled a great many feats of arms by TFH through the years.

The move follows the formal progression of TFH’s Brigade Advisory Group, made up of soldiers from 4th Battalion The Rifles, from advising their counterparts in the Afghan National Army’s 3/215 Brigade at the kandak (battalion) level to the brigade level.

1st Mechanized Brigade flag being raised
The 1st Mechanized Brigade flag being raised at the new Task Force Helmand headquarters at Camp Bastion [Picture: Sergeant Barry Pope, Crown copyright]

Brigadier Jones added:

With our advising role now focused at the brigade level, this was the right time to move the Task Force headquarters to be next to that of our counterparts in 3/215 Brigade at Camp Shorabak.

Major Dan Ashton, from the Royal Corps of Signals, was responsible for co-ordinating the challenging project. He said:

Ensuring that the brigade’s units were fully supported throughout this relocation was critical. The ability of the brigade staff to work at the same level of operational tempo whilst split across 2 locations has been hugely impressive and is testament to the quality of the people within the headquarters. The level of support required to facilitate this move has been incredibly far-reaching, incorporating organisations across Afghanistan and the UK.

The HQ relocation was a technical and logistical feat, with a number of previously unencountered challenges, but has set the conditions for 1st Mechanized Brigade’s successors and the successful redeployment of UK forces from Afghanistan.

215 Signal Squadron personnel installing communications equipment
215 Signal Squadron personnel installing communications equipment inside the new Task Force Helmand headquarters at Camp Bastion [Picture: Sergeant Barry Pope, Crown copyright]

Major Liz Byfield, Officer Commanding 215 Signal Squadron, responsible for the technical aspects of the move, said:

The complexity and technical challenges of the move should not be underestimated. It required communication specialists from across Afghanistan and the UK to support. It wasn’t just the sheer amount of IT we had to move, but the number of different systems which interact with each other, with different levels of security classification, which made the move a huge undertaking.

It’s the little things you don’t always think of at the beginning – like US equipment running on different types of power – which made things more difficult.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:35
Philip Hammond receives a briefing on the redeployment of equipment

Philip Hammond receives a briefing on the redeployment of equipment

15 June 2013    Ministry of Defence


The headquarters of British forces deployed in Afghanistan is set to move from Lashkar Gah to Camp Bastion this summer.


Defence Secretary Philip Hammond made the announcement whilst on a visit to Afghanistan, where he has met with the Afghan Prime Minister and Defence Minister, and members of the UK Armed Forces deployed in the country.

Task Force Helmand has been based in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, since 2006, and the relocation is in line with the drawdown and redeployment of UK forces as the Afghan forces prepare to take the operational lead.

Camp Bastion is located next to the Afghan National Army Camp Shorabak. The move will allow the British and Afghan headquarters to work closely together during the final stages of transition which will see Afghan forces leading 100 per cent of all security operations across all of the Afghan population by the end of the summer.

Read more about the government’s policy to Establish Security in Afghanistan

 Philip Hammond visits troops in Afghanistan
Philip Hammond visits troops in Afghanistan [All pictures: Cpl Si Longworth, Crown copyright]

Mr Hammond said:

British forces have a proud history of service in Afghanistan and much of the hard work and effort has been planned from the Task Force Helmand Headquarters at Lashkar Gah.

The success of Afghan forces in the areas in which we operate has been driving our ability to hand over security responsibility, which has seen a significant reduction in British bases from 137 three years ago to 13 now.

The Brigade Headquarters at Lashkar Gah will soon relocate to Camp Bastion as we continue to draw down our forces and redeploy our equipment and vehicles. This move will also allow our military commanders to liaise better with their opposite numbers in the Afghan National Army.

Brigadier Rupert Jones, Commander Task Force Helmand, said:

The position of the Headquarters in Lashkar Gah has been vital to the achievements of successive Task Forces based here. It has allowed me and my predecessors to work closely with key Afghan officials, such as the Provincial Governor, and to train and advise our Afghan security partners, including the Afghan National Police.

Now, as the Afghan security forces take the lead and we lift off from training and advising at lower levels, it is appropriate that we relocate the Task Force Headquarters to Camp Bastion, next to the Headquarters of the Afghan National Army at Camp Shorabak. This will allow even closer co-operation at the brigade level, where our focus now lies.

Philip Hammond meets Afghan Brigadier General Sherin Shah
Philip Hammond meets The Commander of the Afghan Army's 3/215 Brigade, Brigadier General Sherin Shah.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was briefed on the Headquarters move during a visit to troops serving in Helmand province, which came after meetings with President Karzai and other Afghan ministers in Kabul.

In Helmand, the Defence Secretary received an update on the progress of the redeployment of British vehicles, equipment and material from Afghanistan while at Camp Bastion, including the work to prepare the Merlin helicopters for redeployment to the UK.

The Merlin helicopters are the first major equipment to be redeployed from theatre and recently finished operations.

Mr Hammond said:

I was encouraged to see the redeployment of British equipment and vehicles is progressing well, and is actually ahead of schedule.

The Merlin helicopters and crews have served ably in Afghanistan but, as our role has changed significantly in recent months, returning the Merlin fleet now is a key element of our orderly drawdown from Afghanistan.

In Kabul, the Defence Secretary met with President Hamid Karzai and Defence Minister General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, with whom he discussed the ongoing transition of security responsibility to Afghan forces.

Mr Hammond also visited the site of the future Afghan National Army Officer Academy, where British military advisors will continue to train and advise officers from the Afghan National Army following the conclusion of the combat mission at the end of 2014 as part of the UK’s enduring commitment to Afghanistan.

Mr Hammond said:

The handover of security to full Afghan control across the country is imminent and Britain’s role is changing into one of assistance, advice and training.

In light of this change in responsibilities, I discussed the future security challenges facing Afghanistan with President Karzai and Defence Minister Mohammadi in Kabul.

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