Northampton soldier prepares for UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus
A Northampton Lance Corporal is preparing to deploy to Cyprus for a six-month tour of duty as a UN peacekeeper.
Christopher Dragon, 24, is a member of The Royal Lancers who is heading to Cyprus to patrol the buffer zone also known as the “Green Line,” that has divided the Turkish north and the Greek south for over 40 years.
The troops completed their training last week and swapped their regimental berets for the distinctive blue of the United Nations.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve done all the training, now it’s time to put it into practice and I’m going with a great bunch of lads.”
The peacekeeping mission is one of the longest-running United Nations missions - the British contribution is known as Op TOSCA.
The buffer zone extends approximately 180km and is divided into three Sectors. The British soldiers will be responsible for the central part of the buffer zone, known as Sector 2, covering the city of Nicosia. All have received a cultural briefing to ensure they are fully aware of the history of the tension between the north and south of the Mediterranean island.
Christopher is one of 285 soldiers who are deploying. The unarmed soldiers will patrol by vehicle, foot or by mountain bike, working to maintain the peace and stability and performing an important liaison role with local people and local authorities.
Christopher joined the Army six years ago and will be working as a Patrol Commander. He will also be involved in community liaison. This will include organising sporting events for youngsters from the local communities.
Whilst deployed, Christopher will have the opportunity to take part in adventure training and plans to fit in some hill walking.
Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Henry Searby said: “For some of the 285 soldiers deploying this will be their first operational tour while others have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The training has included developing skills in negotiation and mediation, observing and reporting and recognising what constitutes a violation of the existing agreements.
“The role will require tact and professionalism and it will be a unique challenge for all involved.”
The Royal Lancers are expected to deploy later this month. Their training has been overseen by members of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards who are currently deployed.
The Regiment recruits from across the whole of the Midlands. It is the armoured cavalry regiment of 12 Armoured Infantry Brigade. Its famous skull and crossbones capbadge is one of the most recognisable in the British Army and represents its motto: ‘Death or Glory’.