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Support from home is paramount says Bromley soldier

PUBLISHED: 17:16 22 September 2010

Tom Moir and search dog Aspen

Tom Moir and search dog Aspen

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A specialist soldier says that it is the "huge" support from back in the UK and from his search dog Espen, which have got him through his tour as he prepares to head home, writes Tim Dickens.

Tom Moir and search dog Aspen

Sergeant Tom Moir, from Shortlands, was speaking from the Helmand Province in Afghanistan two weeks before the end of his tour of duty in the area with the Military Working Dogs Regiment.

The 32-year-old, who serves with 102 Squadron, goes out as part of a search team with the Royal Engineers looking for bombs and explosive devices preparing a safe passage for the troops.

But despite the seemingly perilous nature of his role Sgt Moir dismisses any suggestion that it is dangerous.

He said: “I wouldn’t say what I do is dangerous. We have lots in place to lower the risks and I am no more in danger than any of the other troops.”

Sgt Moir’s day starts early at the Forward Operating Base Shawqat in the Nad-e Ali district of Southern Helmand when he takes Espen, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois, on a walk and then a two-mile run to maintain fitness levels.

He says that it is the phenomenal level of support that he gets from people at home in Britain which keeps him going.

“The public support is such a huge boost — especially for the dogs who get sent treats and toys.”

Tom Moir went to Valley Primary School, in Beckenham Lane, Shortlands, before going to Alleyne School, Dulwich, where he joined the cadets and fell in love with the army.

He began working with highly trained sniffer dogs in 2004 after eight years in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

Sgt Moir said: “Each day working with dogs brings a different challenge. It is not like fixing a tank, where there are only certain things that go wrong.

“When you’re out here on your own with a dog there is a sense of companionship.”

He has been on five operational tours and is now coming to the end of a challenging six-month tour with Espen.

He added: “The first thing I am going to do when I get home is have a cold beer from the fridge and enjoy an escape from the heat.”

You can follow Task Force Helmand on the Helmand Blog at www.ukforcesafghanistan.wordpress.com.

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