Soldier keeps the peace in Cyprus

Lance Corporal Ryan Hardman of the 28 Engr Regt
Lance Corporal Ryan Hardman of the 28 Engr Regt
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A LOCAL soldier has played a key role in one of the United Nations’ long-standing peace keeping missions.

Lance Corporal Ryan Hardman, is coming to the end of his six-month posting in Cyprus.

The 26-year-old is currently serving with the 28 Engineer Regiment (28 Engr Regt) on a UN peacekeeping operation known as Operation Tosca.

Ryan, from Freckleton, near Preston, is one of 280 soldiers and officers from the 28 Engr Regt based in Hamelin, Germany that have made the switch to patrol a buffer zone and maintain the status quo between Greek Cypriot forces in the south and Turkish forces in the north.

Cyprus has been divided into a Turkish-Cypriot northern region and a Greek-Cypriot southern region since 1974.

And Ryan is enjoying facing new challenges in the Mediterranean country.

He said: “Back in Germany I am an Armourer responsible for ensuring weapons are in good working order so the work I am doing here could not be any further removed.

“Here we patrol regularly, without weapons, making sure there has been no unauthorised activity in the buffer zone and resolving disputes, mainly between farmers and hunters who do not have the correct permits.

“Often they will have a moan but you just have to diplomatic, positive about things and deal calmly with the issue.

“Most of the time we have to deal with people face-to-face listening to their complaints or problems. Often the disputes seem petty to us but you have to remain professional and deal calmly with them.”

The UN mission will be the last operational deployment for the 28 Engr Regt before their formal disbandment in June 2014.

Lieutenant Colonel Chas Story, Commanding Officer 28 Engr Regt, said: “Operation Tosca is an odd mission, it’s a peacekeeping mission - something very different to what we have been used to in Afghanistan or Iraq. So far it has been a successful tour.”