A SPALDING soldier is preparing for a tour of duty on the frontline in Afghanistan.
Lance Bombardier Sam Atkinson (25), a former Gleed Boys School pupil who still has family in the town and enjoys playing football for Pinchbeck United whenever he gets the chance, has spent a fortnight in Cyprus training for his latest role.
Serving with 58 (Eyre’s) Battery part of 12 Regiment Royal Artillery, Sam has been going back to basics learning counter insurgency skills and drills which he may be called on to use for real when serving in Helmand next year.
Sam said: “I’ve had a fantastic few weeks. I’ve just spent seven weeks in Kenya playing enemy for the Royal Anglian Regiment training and I was only back a week before coming out to Cyprus.”
The exercise, officially known as Exercise Lion Star, was carried out on the Mediterranean island to get troops used to operating in a hot climate.
Sam’s usual role is as a radio operator in support of a high velocity missile used to shoot down enemy aircraft, but as there is no perceived air threat in Afghanistan he will be called upon to use other skills.
His Battery will operate and maintain high-powered optical scopes and thermal imaging equipment used to provide early warning of insurgent and enemy activity so defensive action can be taken.