Local solider starts duty

A soldier from our region - who's started his first tour of Afghanistan protecting troops on the front line.

Local solider starts tourA British Army mapping expert based in Thatcham, Berkshire, has just begun his first tour of Afghanistan, where his work is protecting troops on the front line from the danger of improvised explosive devices.

Lance Corporal Ross "Rocco" Colwell (33) is usually based with his unit 42 Engineer Regiment in Hermitage. But for the next six months he is exercising his crucial geographical skills in a very different environment: Headquarters Task Force Helmand in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Afghanistan's Helmand province.

LCpl Colwell's work in the headquarters' geographical cell, where he is responsible for analysis of incidents and trends in improvised explosive devices, so that lessons can be identified. His work supports the Combined Force - the British personnel out on the ground and the Afghans they are partnering, helping them to avoid sustaining casualties when out on operations.

Since joining the Army in 2001, LCpl Colwell has conducted four tours of Iraq but this is the first time he has served in Afghanistan.

LCpl Colwell said: "The job is demanding as time-sensitive tasks need to be completed to aid in the success of a mission. But it's obviously very rewarding to know that your work is making a real difference."

He added: "I'm working with a really good team and the tour is going great - but I am looking forward to my R&R and seeing my family."

LCpl Colwell is a father-of-one and when not staying in Thatcham lives in Camelford, Cornwall, where he also grew up. He enjoys rugby, football, fishing and playing darts in his spare time.