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Reservist has Afghanistan in his sights

PUBLISHED: 15:19 16 December 2009 | UPDATED: 09:17 12 August 2010

DUTY CALLS:

DUTY CALLS:

A BLOODY year of combat in Afghanistan has seen the deaths of UK troops spike to 100 this year. But reservists from London s only Territorial Army (TA) are as determined as ever to join UK troops there in their first tour next year. Oliver Denne, 21, fr

DUTY CALLS:

A BLOODY year of combat in Afghanistan has seen the deaths of UK troops spike to 100 this year.

But reservists from London's only Territorial Army (TA) are as determined as ever to join UK troops there in their first tour next year.

Oliver Denne, 21, from Beckenham, joined the TA in August 2008 and is determined to keep the peace in the war-torn country despite the risks.

He said: "My actual role is as a rifleman. I will be patrolling and making contact with the locals, hopefully getting their support, which is one of the most important things we can do out there. My main job is to keep the peace.

"We want to reach out to the people and really interact. We are trying to build a better life for them.

"I am really looking forward to finding out about their culture, to see how they work, play and even sound.

"But we are not going just to sit around. We have to take the fight to the Taliban or we won't achieve anything."

Mr Denne, who is with the A Company, 2 Platoon, based in Catford, is single and lives with his mum, dad and sister at home.

He said: "It's a bit cosy in the house, but we all get on well. I am very close to my family and to my mum in particular.

"I don't talk about Afghanistan with my dad, but I'm hoping he's proud of me.

"Of course they're all worried, but they are very supportive. They did ask me if I was absolutely sure this is what I want to do. And it is. I want to do whatever I can."

As part of The London Regiment, he plans to join 60-strong Reservists, who come from all walks of life including estate agents, engineers and teachers who have now swapped their civilian occupations to be mobilised as full-time soldiers for the next year.

Speaking to us last Thursday from a training day in Thetford, Norfolk, Mr Denne added: "It's going great, I am loving the training. I am even considering joining up for the regular army, but I'll see how it goes."

Over the next few months, the soldiers will concentrate on honing their weapon handling, marksmanship skills and counter insurgency tactics.

They will also receive cultural awareness training and will learn combat medical skills so they can treat casualties in the field.

The Reservists will also be required to maintain the Army's strict fitness standards, which will include preparing for the challenging and harsh terrain of Afghanistan.

Mr Denne used to work for the Parole Board in central London, but has been unemployed for the past year, 'for reasons I would prefer not to discuss'.

He added: "I didn't claim any benefits, because I didn't want to rely on help from the state, but I had enough money saved up to see me through."

The London Regiment is the capital's only TA Infantry Regiment and is fully operational, having been twice to Iraq in 2004 and to Afghanistan in 2007.

n For more information about the Regiment, call 020 7820 4040 or visit www.londonregiment.mod.uk or www.armyjobs.mod.uk.

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