Cyrpus: More than 200 soldiers have been given blue berets ahead of deploying to Cyprus for UN peacekeeping duties on Operation Tosca.
Regulars and reserves from across mainly 6 Royal Logistic Corps and other units will take over from 6 Rifles next month.
The personnel put on the berets, signalling they are UN peacekeepers, during a ceremony at Nesscliffe Training Camp in Shropshire.
For many, Op Tosca 34 – which will see troops help maintain international peace and security in Cyprus – is their first operational tour. And for more than 140 of the personnel, it is their maiden overseas deployment.
Lance Corporal Alix Hoyle, who is amongst the 10% of women that are deploying, told Forces News: “I’m really excited. This is actually my first tour.
“Us putting on our blue berets signifies that we’re now falling under the UN, the start of working with a lot of different people.”
Whilst on the island, the soldiers will help patrol the buffer zone between the Republic of Cyprus and northern Cyprus which is occupied by Turkey.
It is a vital operation as the country has remained in limbo for decades as a resolution between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots has so far failed to materialise.
Lieutenant Colonel Andy Richardson, Commanding Officer of Sector 2, Op Tosca 34, said: “I think this tour’s going to be really different from tours that people have been on previously.
“Peacekeeping missions require a lot of soft skills. All of our soldiers have conducted negotiation training and different sorts of training than what they might usually do for our warfighting role.
“The majority of our soldiers will be on what’s called the Green Line or the buffer zone and they’re really senses, so they’re out there observing, liaising and negotiating with both of the opposing forces on either side of the buffer zone.”
After completing an isolation period – two weeks in the UK and two weeks in Cyprus – the soldiers will take over from 6 Rifles reservists on 1 April.
Sectioned into their households, the soldiers will fly from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire over the next week ahead of the seven-month deployment. Forces.net