SOLDIERS from Hampshire’s army regiment have been in Africa to join the international fight against Somali terrorists and pirates.
Troops from 3rd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment – known as the Tigers – went to Uganda to lead a two-week training exercise.
They were getting African Union troops ready for a one-year tour in Somalia where Islamist militants – funded by pirate gangs – have seized control of much of the country.
Ugandan troops make up the bulk of a 6,000-strong United Nations force helping Somalia’s government to fight Al-Shabab rebels, who have links with Al-Qaeda.
Among the 30 Tigers training the Ugandans was Sergeant Colin Tester from the Territorial Army in Hilsea.
The 46-year-old, who runs a curtains and blinds shop near Winchester in civilian life, has been in the TA for 20 years.
He said: ‘That we have had the chance to assist with the Ugandan soldiers’ training was a fantastic, once in a lifetime opportunity.
‘I really enjoyed my time in Uganda. Somalia will be a tough mission for the Ugandan troops and it was a great opportunity to help with their training utilising my military skills I have learnt through my time with the TA.’
The training took place at Singo Training Camp, 50 miles north of Uganda’s capital city Kampala.
During their fortnight there, the Tigers visited local schools and were visited by the UK Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, who opened a new UK-funded part of the military camp.
The battalion’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Geoff Minton, said: ‘Resolving the situation in Somalia is now one of the UK’s highest overseas priorities.
‘It was great to be able to add value to the training which is helping to address the problems there. Working with the Ugandans was very rewarding.’