Portsmouth reservists prepare to for Cyprus mission

TRAINING Territory Army, D Company of 3rd Battalion Princess of Wales Royal Regiment at the TA Centre in Peronne Close, Portsmouth. Picture: Allan Hutchings (113036-494)

TRAINING Territory Army, D Company of 3rd Battalion Princess of Wales Royal Regiment at the TA Centre in Peronne Close, Portsmouth. Picture: Allan Hutchings (113036-494)

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TROOPS from Portsmouth are training ahead of a six-month deployment in Cyprus.

The 15 Territorial Army soldiers, of Hilsea-based D Company, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, will carry out unarmed patrols in the United Nations buffer zone.

When deployed in October they will be part of a 200-strong force from their regiment, also joining the 38 Engineer Regiment.

It comes at a time when the reservists are no longer just plugging the gaps of the regular Army.

The Ministry of Defence wants to see the number of TA reservists boosted to 30,000 by 2018.

An Army spokesman said: ‘There’s a huge push now for reserve troops to be considered as equal to a regular soldier.

‘As such they can expect to be asked to deploy on such operations.’

He added the soldiers are now completing pre-deployment training.

He said: ‘They’ll be doing patrolling exercises, a little bit of crowd control, which will stand them in good stead if anything flares up.

‘Over the past six months while their predecessors have been out there, there has been very little trouble.

‘It gets down to stone throwing across the gap.’

Cyprus has been divided by the UN buffer zone since 1974 after the Turkish response to the Greek military coup in Cyprus.

Now British troops patrol the central section, with Argentinian troops to the west and Hungarian, Serbian and Czech forces to the East.

Around 60,000 Turkish and Greek sit either side of the buffer zone.

There has been no fighting for 40 years but a peace agreement has never been signed.

As previously reported in The News in February, the TA unit in Hilsea is the last TA infantry unit in the whole of Hampshire.

Members of the company have been deployed in Afghanistan and had expected to be deployed to Cyprus.

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