The Macedonian Tendency: British Army Trains With Macedonians

Sunday, July 08, 2007

British Army Trains With Macedonians

We back TA unit's mercy mission to Macedonia
Karen Burke, 31 May 2007
Ilford Recorder

TERRITORIAL Army soldiers will be leaving their families behind for two weeks of intensive training in the rocky and arid terrain of Macedonia.

But they will not be alone - Recorder reporter Karen Burke will be flying out with recruits from Redbridge and neighbouring Barking and Dagenham to report on their manoeuvres.

The soldiers will be working with live ammunition and testing the chain of command in the 130-strong Rifles battalion before being sent to serve in Afghanistan.

Major Terry Roper said the lads are excited about the Afghanistan operation.

They will be sent to Camp Bastion at the heart of the Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, where they will carry out garrison duties from October until April next year.

This will be the first time the British Army has trained with the Macedonian Army in a joint exercise that will be very high-profile for the eastern European country which is keen to join both Nato and the European Union.

Major Roper said British troops wanted to win hearts and minds among the local population during the exercise, and would be supporting an EU project to help two village schools in Pepliste and Krivolak with equipment and repairs.

"The place has been ravaged by war and some of the gipsy population are actually living in rubbish tips," he said.

"They are living in shanty towns - what we would call landfill sites - and kids are going to school without any shoes. It is unbelievable in this day and age that people are living like this."

As part of the effort to help the schoolchildren, Major Roper is appealing for help from Recorder readers.

Donations of children's clothes up to the age of 12-years-old - including shoes, trainers and football shirts - are invited.

To help the schools, the Rifles are appealing for donations of unwanted computers, printers, laptops and software.

Readers wanting to make a donation can drop items off with Karen Burke at the Recorder offices at 539 High Road, Ilford

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