BURIED at the bottom of a ministerial statement in Parliament was the news that Colchester has been waiting for.

Since the town’s soldiers returned from Afghanistan in autumn 2008, an announcement of when they will be heading back to the front has been expected.

After listing the units heading to war-torn Helmand in April, defence minister Bob Ainsworth said: “I shall make a further statement on the units we expect to serve under 4th Mechanised Brigade’s planned replacement formation, 16 Air Assault Brigade, nearer the time of their deployment.”

In that one sentence Mr Ainsworth confirmed Colchester-based troops will be back in Afghanistan in October, their third tour in four years.

Colchester MP Bob Russell called on the town to rally behind its troops.

He said: “I have every confidence, whatever their views are on the Afghanistan conflict, the people of Colchester will again show the overwhelming support that they have always given to our troops. The challenges are changing all the time, but I have every confidence the professionalism of Colchester’s soldiers will shine through.

“I shall doing my bit by pressing the Government to ensure troops have the maximum number of helicopters available and also unmanned aerial vehicles, the eyes in the sky that are vital for keeping track of insurgent activity.”

Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for North Essex, is on his way home from a visit to Helmand.

He said Colchester’s troops had been preparing for their return since they arrived back.

He said: “I would expect their role to be more about training and partnering the increasingly strong Afghan National Army.

“Afghanistan is at a tipping point. There will be fierce fighting this summer, and the Taleban should be on the back foot by the time our troops arrive.”

Armed forces minister Bill Rammell has praised the “dedicated professionalism and absolute heroism” already shown by Colchester’s troops in Afghanistan.

He said the troops will be able to see the progress made since their first deployment in 2006.

Mr Rammell said it was impossible to eliminate risk to troops.

He added: “We do everything in our power to provide the best equipment for our troops and the Taleban are constantly looking at the way we confront them.

“The big challenge now is improvised explosive devices, and the reason the Taleban have gone down that route is because they cannot beat us in a head-on confrontation.”