Riflemen, as your Royal Colonel, I am enormously proud to be in Bulford today to present you with your campaign medals. HERRICK 18 presented the Battalion with a new set of complex, sensitive and dangerous challenges, which you met with your characteristic professionalism, determination and unique 4 Rifles spirit. I am so grateful that you have all returned to share in the success of your tour.
Throughout the heat of the summer months you were at the very forefront of Afghan Forces taking the lead for Afghan security: training and advising the Afghan National Army and helping the Transition Support Units. Whichever element you were involved in, preparing for transition is a delicate, difficult and often dangerous task, requiring considerable bravery, skill and diplomacy. You have as always faced each challenge with courage and dexterity, exacting the highest standards in every arena. I am assured by my spies that you have excelled yourselves, leaving 3/215 Corps more ready and able to face the future.
The skills you have learnt in Afghanistan should not be discarded either; I have no doubt that the art of nurturing and training a foreign Army will prove useful in an uncertain global future.
I was delighted to see so many of your families at Highgrove this summer. I know they have missed you a great deal and I also realise how difficult it can be for them while you are on operations. Their extraordinary resilience and support for you is something for which I have the greatest admiration.
I would also like to make special mention of the Rear Operations Group, which has been working so hard, here at home, on the routine tasks which help to make both your deployment, and occasions like today, possible. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude too.
I hope that the year to come will give you an opportunity to recuperate and re-group before the next task comes along, whether in New Zealand or elsewhere. But I believe whatever the future holds for you, your courage and commitment in Afghanistan have greatly enhanced the reputation of 4 Rifles, and the British Army as a whole, in my eyes the best army in the world. You have achieved a great deal once again, in often impossibly difficult circumstances and under considerable pressure. You have made your country and your Royal Colonel extremely proud well done, and thank you.
I salute you all and wish you a very Happy Christmas!