2 Rifles enjoy Christmas celebration before Kabul deployment

The soldiers of the Co Antrim-based 2 Rifles have enjoyed a Christmas celebration before gearing up for their 2020 deployment to Kabul.

There were races in improvised go karts around Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn before the lower ranks were served Christmas lunch by their officers.

The day of fun came just months before they fly to the Afghan capital to become the latest battalion to join Operation Toral to help develop the military capability of the Afghanistan government’s armed forces.

Soldiers of 2 Rifles enjoy improvised sleigh races at Thiepval Barracks in Co Antrim
Soldiers of 2 Rifles enjoy improvised sleigh races at Thiepval Barracks in Co Antrim (Rebecca Black/PA)

In March, 2 Rifles, which attracts soldiers from across the UK, undertook intensive training in challenging climate and terrain in Kenya.

Since then they have been continuing their preparations for deployment next spring.

The Battalion celebrated ‘Christmas Day’ with a carol service followed by a Inter Company go kart race before a lovey Christmas dinner. #festivefun#therifles#swiftandboldpic.twitter.com/tmkdpY7uO6

— CO 2 RIFLES (@CO_2RIFLES) December 16, 2019

Commanding Officer Sam Cates said a lot of fun had been had on the last day before their Christmas break, but in January the focus will be firmly on the final preparations for deployment.

“It’s a bit of a tradition across the army for the officers to serve our soldiers a Christmas lunch as part of our close-down celebrations,” Lieutenant Colonel Cates told the PA news agency.

Lieutenant Colonel Sam Cates said 2 Rifles were looking forward to their Christmas break before deployment to Kabul
Lieutenant Colonel Sam Cates was among the senior ranks who took a turn serving a Christmas lunch to the soldiers under his command. (Rebecca Black/PA)

“It’s the least we can do to show our appreciation to them of all the hard work and effort they have put in this year

“We have had a great morning with a bit of fun and our carol service.

“We’ll be enjoying the Christmas break with our families and then straight back on the horse so to speak.

The officers of 2 Rifles are marched across Thiepval Barracks to serve Christmas lunch to the lower ranks
The officers of 2 Rifles are marched across Thiepval Barracks to serve Christmas lunch to the lower ranks (Rebecca Black/PA)

“We start off in January with more training; some company level training, more range packages and on the vehicles, and then we go to our rehearsal exercise in February before deploying later in the spring.”

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