Andrew combines work and study in Helmand

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AN ARBROATH based Royal Marine is learning a lot about frontline tactics during his first deployment to Afghanistan.

But the terrain is not the only thing he is studying.

Marine Andrew Walker, who is from Anniesland, Glasgow, is halfway through a six-month tour with 45 Commando from RM Condor, who are taking the role of Combined Force Nad-e Ali South in Helmand Province.

The 24-year-old signaller has an important job maintaining the communications link between the Battlegroup HQ at Forward Operating Base in Shawqat, and those Marines out on the ground.

It’s the first time that Marine Walker has deployed to Afghanistan and he is finding the going tough.

He said: “The job can really push you to your limit both physically and mentally. The temperature is reaching around 50 degrees centigrade at the moment and this makes every aspect of the job much more difficult.”

However, as well as working long hours in arduous conditions, Andrew has still found the time to attend classes twice a week to improve his qualifications.

In between fixing radios and satellites and doing guard duty at the base, he has been revising for his Level Two literacy and numeracy exams.

“I was never really interested in learning when I was at school,” added Andrew.

“But now education is opening up so many doors for me. It is also a really good way to spend my downtime and it’s far more productive than the Xbox!

“The courses I’m studying will help with my promotion but I also want to complete some A-Levels and perhaps an Open University degree.”

His education officer in Helmand, Lieutenant Tom Hudson, said: “A lot of the Marines who are deployed with 45 Commando are taking courses ranging from basic skills to GCSEs and A-levels. We arrange classes around the lads’ duties and patrol routines.

“It doesn’t matter where the guys are based either; classes are taught in all the company locations and even in checkpoints on the edge of the area of operations.”

When Marine Walker is not working or studying, he keeps fit by working on his boxing skills.

Andrew has represented 45 Commando in the Royal Marine Corps boxing championships, reaching the semi-finals in previous years.

After completing his tour of Helmand, Marine Walker will return to RM Condor in Arbroath and is looking forward to spending time with his family and friends in Glasgow.