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Fiji Time: 6:57 AM on Monday 21 April

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'Apache attack helicopters are my thing'

The Afghan Media Ops Centre, Camp Bastion, Afghanistan
Sunday, January 06, 2013

A soldier originally from Solevu, Malolo Island, Nadroga, Fiji is serving in Afghanistan as a member of the British Army working as groundcrew for the Apache attack helicopters.

Lance Corporal Vukinavanua "VK" Ifereimi, 31, is presently working at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan with 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment, Army Air Corp (AAC) who are operating the Apache attack helicopters.

VK was deployed to Afghanistan in October last year, and is expected to be in Afghanistan for four months, leaving in January 2013.

VK's role in Afghanistan includes moving the Apache helicopters, rearming their weapon systems and refuelling the aircraft to ensure that they can carry out their missions in support of ISAF troops. While at Camp Bastion he works 24-hour shifts to ensure that the aircraft are always available.

During this tour VK is keen to develop the soldiers working for him and ensure that some of his experiences are passed on.

He said: "I think it's always important to be professional at what I do and encourage and guide the new Troopers to be good at their jobs."

Having joined the Army in 2003, VK has been to Afghanistan five times where he has noticed the change.

He said: "As far as this tour goes I have noticed a major change in our commitment due to the roles picked up by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and we are using less ammunition than before. It's great seeing them taking the lead in operations."

When back in the UK, VK is a keen rugby player and has represented both the AAC where he is currently the Captain and the Army. He has also been fortunate to bob-sleigh and sub-aqua dive while serving in the Army.

While in Afghanistan he spends some of his spare time singing in a Fijian choir to fellow troops.

When VK returns from Afghanistan in the New Year, he is looking forward to spending time with his family in Fiji and enjoying chilling out on the village beach with a cold Fiji Bitter!

The UK now has approximately 9000 service personnel in Afghanistan, the majority of whom are based in Helmand Province.

Camp Bastion is the support base for all UK military operations, processing all stores, people, food, vehicles, mail and equipment that are necessary to sustain the operation.

Task Force Helmand is the UK contribution to ISAF's Regional Command (South West). Its headquarters is in the regional capital of Lashkar Gar.

There are numerous patrol bases and forward operating bases within the UK area, from which units work with the Afghan Army and Police to provide a secure environment to enable development work to take place.

The UK military involvement in Afghanistan is known as Operation HERRICK.

Currently, they are on HERRICK 17, under the command of the 4 Mechanised Brigade.