Op TORAL VIII - Afghanistan

Sun, 04/21/2019 - Fri, 11/08/2019

The 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment (1 R IRISH), commanded by Lieutenant Colonel M G T Lewis R IRISH, deployed on Operation TORAL for seven months, leaving a 140-strong Rear Operations Group at Clive Barracks in Shropshire, England.

The Battalion assumed the operational role as the NATO Kabul Protection Unit from the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles on 21 April 2019. During Op TORAL VIII, 1 R IRISH was, in essence, an enlarged Battle Group as it included three attached companies from the 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES). The Battle Group was deployed in the New Kabul Compound in central Kabul, in Camp Qargah on the Western outskirts of the city, and in the International Airport to the north of the city centre.

One composite company, deployed to Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), titled the HKIA Company, was formed from B and C Company 1 R IRISH, with reinforcement by D Company 1 R IRISH and elements of 1 RIFLES. There were individual attachments from 2 R IRISH who had been mobilised for Op TORAL. The HKAI Company also guarded Camp TAIPAN, the location of Royal Air Force Toral Aviation Detachment. The second composite company, formed by A, D and Headquarter Company, was deployed into the location known as the New Kabul Compound (NKC), and was titled NKC Company.

Op TORAL VIIIThe main operational events included a suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) attack on an NGO compound in north Kabul called Green Village and, three days later on 5 September 2019, a VBIED attack on a NATO Special Forces Convoy near the Green Zone in Kabul. Each resulted in complex responses that included deployment of a Quick Reaction Force to extract NATO casualties and assistance to the Afghan Security Forces. There were significant Afghan civilian and insurgent, international contractor and NATO military casualties, including death and serious injury, in both these incidents.

The main operational activity involved the routine movement of civilian and military advisors across Kabul and providing them, when dismounted, with close protection. Finally, there was assistance to the Afghan Security Forces in the period leading up to and during the Presidential election in late September 2019.

Op TORAL VIII was completed when 1 R IRISH achieved the 'Transfer of Authority', as the Kabul Protection Unit, to the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment on 8 November 2019 before departing Afghanistan.

Post-Tour Welcome Home

OpTORALVIIIAround 1,000 people gathered in Market Drayton, the town local to Clive Barracks, to welcome home the Battalion following its tour of Afghanistan. Some 250 Battalion personnel took part in a parade (right) and open air thanksgiving to mark the Battalion's safe return. After the ceremony, the contingent marched to the town's Royal British Legion to attend a reception where some were introduced to the Lord-Lieutenant of Shropshire, Anna Turner JP.

Crowds lined the street in Newtownards town centre in Northern Ireland to welcome home all ranks who had served with the Battalion in Afghanistan as represented by a contingent of 160 personnel (left). After the parade the contingent attended a service of thanksgiving at St Mark's Parish Church, Newtownards

The Colonel of The Royal Irish Regiment, Major General C R J Weir DSO MBE (right), presented the Operation Service Medal (Afghanistan) to personnel of the 1st and the 2nd Battalion before the parade in Newtownards.