Camberwell’s  George Parker, 23, has deployed on his first operational mission to Afghanistan and is in command of men,  writes Christopher Carey…

Lance Corporal Parker is one of an additional 440 UK troops who have been deployed to Kabul since the Prime Minister announced an uplift in the UK troop contribution to operations in Afghanistan in July.

“My role is to command a ‘node’ of four men who provide protection for UK, Australian, Danish and New Zealand mentors training Afghans at the Afghan National Army Officers Academy”, said Lance Corporal Parker a former pupil of London Nautical School in Waterloo.

“The training the Afghans conduct at the Officers Academy is of a high standard, often the mentors are able to take a step back. It definitely demonstrates progress,” he added

Having joined the Army in 2013, Lance Corporal Parker initially trained at the Infantry Training Centre, in Catterick, before conducting ceremonial public duties including the world famous ‘Trooping of the Colour’.

“I always wanted to join the Infantry, it’s a physical job and keeps you fit and active,” said Lance Corporal Parker.

“The Grenadier Guards jumped out at me because of the dual role – Infantry and Ceremonial. Conducting the Trooping of the Colour was fantastic, I was really proud to do it in front of my family and the Queen.”

His Company Commander, Major Neil Strachan, explained what the rest of the Grenadier Guards have been tasked to do this year, “The Grenadier Guards are deployed in three operational theatres simultaneously – The Queen’s Company is in Afghanistan, another Company (around 120 soldiers) is in Iraq providing mentors to Iraqi forces and their own force protection, and yet another Company is in South Sudan providing force protection to the UN mission there.”

Speaking of Afghanistan, Lance Corporal Parker said: “There’s beautiful scenery around Kabul, a completely different culture – when we leave, I’ll feel proud that we made a difference in Afghanistan.”