The Prime Minister has announced that a Service of Commemoration to mark the end of combat operations in Afghanistan, which will take place on 13 March 2015. Scheduled just a few months ahead of the upcoming elections, critics have linked this as a part of Mr Cameron's efforts to woo the Asian support, who have also taken part in the combat operations, including giving their lives while at service.
Attended by Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, it will also pay tribute to all those in the UK who worked to make the country a safer, more stable country, 2001-2014.
Those who will be invited to the service, to be held at St Paul’s Cathedral, will include: senior government and military representatives; representatives of other nations who formed part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan; representatives from units in the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force that have served in Afghanistan, including Regular and Reserve; veterans; the Next of Kin of deceased Service personnel; and representatives of Government, Non-Government Organisations and industries who have contributed to the UK’s efforts across Afghanistan during this time.
A parade made up of personnel who served in Afghanistan will take place after service, followed by a reception at Guildhall hosted by The City of London Corporation.
The Prime Minister said: “This is an opportunity for the country to pay tribute to the extraordinary contribution made by all those who served in Afghanistan over 13 years...The whole country is right to be incredibly proud of our Armed Forces and all who served in Afghanistan.”
The various groups who are connected to the operation will be invited to attend the service. This will obviously include the British Asians, especially Gurkhas.
In 2010 Prince Charles had met about 200 soldiers, their wives and children from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles as they trained on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire ahead of deploying to Afghanistan from next month. As Colonel in Chief, the Prince had spoken to several soldiers who worked alongside Prince Harry when he was in Helmand in early 2008.
Captain Chandra Pun, who is a Gurkha and second in command of A Company, had showed Charles a photo of himself and Harry enjoying a Nepalese curry in their sleeping quarters in Afghanistan.''He laughed and said thanks for looking after my son. In Nepal we don't use knife and forks, we use our fingers. That was the first time I taught Prince Harry how to eat rice with his fingers. He asked a couple of questions about the boys. I told him we had done lots of training, most of the boys have lots of experience in Afghanistan, we are very confident and looking forward to it,'' said Captain Pun.
In 2013 acting Lance Corporal Tuljung Gurung, from The Royal Gurkha Rifles, fell three metres from a watch tower during a fight in Afghanistan, but said he had wanted to stay alive so he could save his colleagues. He is among some 117 servicemen and women who were recognised in the Operational Honours list, and were honoured at an Investiture ceremony in Buckingham Palace later that year.