Their role will mark the beginning of the endgame of operations in Afghanistan - but will be no less hazardous. Soldiers from the 1st Mechanized Brigade, drawn from bases across Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire, are about to embark on a sixth month deployment to Helmand.
Martin Dowse watched them make their final preparations on Salisbury Plain.
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School children in Hampshire are performing the story of Mary and Joseph using songs by Take That.