Helmand hero earns a royal seal of approval from Queen

Major Piers Strudwick
Major Piers Strudwick
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A SOLDIER from Edinburgh is to receive a commendation from the Queen for “bringing hope to where there had been none” in Afghanistan.

Major Piers Strudwick will be given the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service for transforming security in a notoriously dangerous area of Helmand province.

The 39-year-old, of The Royal Highland Fusiliers, based at Penicuik, took over the responsibilities for the Loy Adera area of Babaji.

The International Security Assistance Force had been in the area for just over six months and most of the bases were under daily attack, with basic movement restricted and mostly undertaken by helicopter.

Major Strudwick devised and executed a plan working with Afghan National Police (ANP) and the local population to drive back the insurgents.

Both the British and Afghan armies have credited the 2 SCOTS officer with an “extraordinary transformation” in security across his area.

Major Strudwick reorganised his company and freed up small group of soldiers to attack in depth and dislocate the insurgents.

His men placed forts and checkpoints along key roads and forced the insurgents out of the area.

The Army said the fighting was some of the most intense in Helmand and lasted three months, with more than 300 gun battles and 76 improvised explosive device attacks.

His citation read: “Throughout the campaign, always with his ANP partners, he took great personal risk by going into the heart of un-cleared areas to conduct shuras [meetings] with the local elders and persuade them to abandon support for the insurgency.”

It added: “Strudwick was inspirational in command. Utterly respected by his own soldiers, his Afghan partners and the local nationals across Loy Adera, he achieved totemic status within his area.

“After six months, the area was unrecognisable and this remarkable turnaround is a credit to Strudwick.”

The announcement was made today with the release of the latest operational honours and awards list, which includes 140 personnel.

Major Strudwick has just left Edinburgh on a secondment to Kenya with his wife Jane, who was among the wives of soldiers who ran a half marathon through the Capital to raise funds for injured servicemen in January.

A spokeswoman for the Army in Scotland said: “This Operational Honours list recognises the bravery, gallantry and meritorious service of our servicemen and women.

“We are very proud of each and every one of them.”

rory.reynolds@edinburghnews.com