Salaamu alaikum.Hello A group of paratroopers have gone back to the classroom to learn Pashtun, the language of Afghanistan, ahead of their deployment to the war-torn country.

The 11 members of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, have completed ten months of intensive language training, and will act as "the face and voice" of soldiers out on patrol in the villages of Helmand province.

Unit education officer Captain Joe Walker said that for the first time junior ranks - one lance corporal and ten privates - were being given the intensive language training as well as officers.

"Their job will be to go out on patrol as soldiers, but with the capability to speak to local people and build relationships with them," he said.

"Our biggest job is to reassure people and give them confidence that we are creating a secure environment, and talking to them in their language is the best way to do that."

A total of 2,500 soldiers from Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade are deploying to Afghanistan this month for a six-month tour.

All have been given training on the basics of Afghan language and culture.

  • More in Monday's Gazette