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New UK peacekeepers unit assumes responsibilities in Episkopi (photos)

The 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment took over as the Resident Infantry Battalion in Episkopi, a news release by the SBA authorities on Tuesday said.

The troops succeed the 2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment.

Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Rob Carr, who is on his second tour of Cyprus, said this was a great opportunity for his soldiers, many of whom are on their first overseas tour, to develop their skillset.

He said: “This is great for the Battalion, this is the last opportunity for us as a regiment to come out here, so we must take this opportunity with both hands.

“In the immediate stage, we have the bedding in process, being good ambassadors, we want to integrate and take on the opportunities of what Cyprus affords us.

“It is unique for us in the infantry and possibly the Army at large, that this is one of the last places we can do overseas service.

“There are some great opportunities to train here and I want to make sure that we are absolutely ready as the Regional Standby Battalion (RSB) too.”

Although 1 LANCS are still new to the island, the CO was not unaware of the more unique challenges facing his soldiers.

He continued: “Primarily, for some of the younger members of the organisation, it is the first time they have been away, the first time in Cyprus and for some, the first time they have been abroad. Couple that with the heat, it makes this a challenging environment to be in.

#UNFICYP #peacekeepers from the Mobile Force Reserve handed over the responsibilities to newly arrived contingent. The Unit is staffed with 65 peacekeepers from the #UK 🇬🇧 to provide support to Sectors & other elements of the Mission, such as patrolling. #A4P #Serving4Peace

— UN Cyprus (@UN_CYPRUS) September 26, 2022

“It is a unique place to be anyway and we must understand all of the processes that are in place, be that Customs issue, getting a telephone line and all of the other administration, which our soldiers may not be used to. But we have been very well supported by our own team and the Garrison Welfare team out here in Cyprus.”

But once the bedding in process is complete, it’s clear that 1 LANCS are looking forward to embracing those unique opportunities the CO refers too.

“We are only here for two years and we have a focus, taking on a commitment, which is very exciting,” he said.

“We want to be tested as the RSB and then in the second year, we will be the Cyprus Ops Battalion, so there is plenty for us to do.

“We have to be good ambassadors as I keep saying and a good partner to everyone out here. Service overseas is good but we want to make it worthwhile and positive for our soldiers.”

So, what has been the reaction of the soldiers and their families so far?

“Soldiers have enjoyed, getting out and about on the island but the key for me and the Command team, is making sure they all make the most of the opportunities, taking advantage of the Adventurous Training on offer and equally, preparing them for their careers when we move on from here.

“It is also important that we look after the families who are now away from their support network but I am confident we have that support network in place for them and they will enjoy their time here.”

1 Lancs