MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

THIS week I have been reflecting on the important role our armed forces play in protecting the UK from those who would wish to do us harm.

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days with the army as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, which was set up to allow participating Members of Parliament to be better informed on issues affecting the military.

Speaking to the soldiers while we were out on training exercises it became apparent how much respect the regular army has for the reserves who they serve alongside.

The army reserve provides highly trained soldiers who can work alongside regulars on missions in the UK and overseas and gives people who already have specialist skills, such as medics and engineers, the opportunity to use and enhance their abilities in new ways.

Over the next few years I expect the role of the reservists to be expanded, which will mean there will be even more opportunities for people who wish to take on the challenge of joining the reserves.

As we reflect on the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War the importance of our armed forces is never far from our thoughts.

While we have hopefully seen an end to the days where wars are fought so close to home, the work our armed forces do in far-reaching conflict zones is just as vital for the protection of Britain, as the threat of terrorist attacks grow in the nation’s consciousness.

I was pleased to see the final withdrawal of British troops from Camp Bastion in Helmand Province last week, bringing to an end our frontline involvement in Afghanistan.

However, the rising influence of ISIL reminds us of the difficult job facing our forces when the enemy is no longer a nation which can be seen on a map, but a terrorist organisation which has infiltrated countries and communities across the Middle East.

Our armed forces are currently also building a lifesaving humanitarian capacity in Sierra Leone against the onslaught of ebola.

In Fylde we are very proud of our association with 2 LANCS, based at Weeton Barracks, and I am sure readers will join me in remembering all those who have given so much in service of their country on the coming Remembrance Sunday.

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