Operation Herrick was the codename for British operations in the War in Afghanistan from 2002 to the end of combat operations in 2014. It consisted of the British contribution to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and support to the American-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
In December 2012 the Prime Minister David Cameron announced that 3,800 British troops serving in Helmand Province would be withdrawn during 2013, leaving just over 5,000 in theatre.
The UK ceased all combat operations in Afghanistan and withdrew the last of its combat troops on the 27 October 2014 and began focussing on training as part of Operation Toral (the UK’s contribution to the NATO Resolute Support Mission) which ended in July 2021.
Between 2001 and 24 July 2015 a total of 454 British military personnel died on operations in Afghanistan.
Royal Signals from Op Telic to Op Herrick
It is important not to view Op Herrick tours in isolation. Deploying on Op Telic 9 in September 2006, 19th Light Brigade embarked on a three-year turnstile of operations and significant activities that concluded with the completion of Op Herrick 10 in October 2009.
This would not have been possible were it not for the resilience of 140 personnel from 209 Signal Squadron, then commanded by Maj Teri Downes In Iraq the Brigade’s Iraq tour was the bloodiest so far; however, with significant effort, the Squadron deployed the new armoured Bowman platforms, providing C2 communications at all levels and enabling the Brigade to fight more effectively in urban areas.
OP Panchai Palang
With the Squadron now commanded by Maj Jules Hill, was a challenging tour but one in which progress was made in central Helmand. The Brigade facilitated the inflow of the first major batch of US forces (4,500 US Marines) and conducted shaping operations that turned into Op Panchai Palang (Panther’s Claw) – a British-led military operation in Helmand Province – before and during the presidential elections.
Op Panchai Palang was a complex, five-week task-force-level operation that significantly reduced the insurgents’ ability to influence the population in Babaji in the elections and helped to develop trust between the local nationals and coalition forces. It aimed to secure various canal and river crossings to establish a permanent International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) presence in the area. The first stage was declared a success on 27 July 2009. The cost though, was high. There was an increase in insurgency and the use of IEDs, and the Brigade suffered heavy losses in fatalities and casualties.
Throughout the deployment, Royal Corps of Signals personnel were embedded in every corner of the Task Force; fighting for communications, demonstrating incredible courage and determination and providing the vital link from the forward battle groups to the TFH.
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