lessons about the value of teamwork learned on the rugby field are standing Gary Gass from Galashiels in good stead in his career as a soldier.
Gary, 34, is a sergeant with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (5th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland) and is on his second tour to Afghanistan, where he is working alongside members of the Afghan National Security Forces.
Troops from the Argylls are primarily in Afghanistan to train and mentor the Afghan National Police (ANP), and bring the force up to a sufficiently high standard to take over security responsibilities now performed by British and NATO troops.
There are about 117,000 fully trained ANP officers and the aim is to reach 134,000 by the end of the year. The Argylls’ work in Helmand province represents a key part of achieving this target.
Gary’s specific role is as a member of a police advisory team in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand, where he works alongside the ANP providing security to locals and deterring Taleban activity.
Gary says he enjoys the feeling that he is doing an important job in Helmand, not only looking after the young Jocks under his command but bringing on the Afghan police and helping them take on security in Nad-e Ali for themselves.
“We can all see real progress taking place here and it’s rewarding to know that we’re part of that,” he said this week.
Currently based in Canterbury, Kent, the home of the Argylls, Gary is a former pupil of Galashiels Academy and his parents Raymond and Diane still live in the town.
Gary ’s family – wife Becky and children Alex, 12, and Emma, seven, live with him in Canterbury. In his spare time Gary enjoys rugby and, when he can, he plays for Canterbury RFC.
He joined the army in 1995 and has served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and most recently in Garmsir in southern Helmand in 2008.