MORE than 70 North East soldiers converged on the Brecon Beacons to prepare for deployment to Afghanistan.
Members of the Fifth Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers were taken to the Welsh countryside to simulate the conditions they may face in war.
The Territorial Army battalion has been sending soldiers to Afghanistan for the past eight years. Recently 40 troops were sent to the war-torn country and a further 50 will be deployed later in the year.
Commanding Officer Major Hunter said: “These men and women are from normal walks of life and have jobs as postmen and plumbers. They give up their own time, many of them using their own holiday allowance, to train for Afghanistan.
“Many will deploy and form up and operate alongside their regular counterparts and they will do a great job.
“When they return they slot back into their old jobs, delivering letters or repairing sinks. It takes a particularly impressive individual to do that.”
The Fusiliers and Riflemen travelled to Wales for a two-week exercise in Sennybridge Camp.
The 69 fighting troops and 11 instructing officers lived out of a specially designed forward operating base, where they were subject to daily attacks, drive-by shootings, IED explosions and rocket attacks.
They conducted patrols and at the end of the exercise they advanced 16km in full kit to attack a village.
Captain Chris Hall said: “These training exercises are vital in preparing troops for any eventuality that we may face in Afghanistan.
“It’s a chance to put all the training that we’ve been taught into practice in life-like simulations and prove that we are ready to face the enemy in a hostile environment.
“It’s invaluable to give the Fusiliers an idea of how it feels and an idea of what to expect.”