British Army Press Release, 4 March 2014.

British Army Press Release Date 4 March 2014:

Commander is no stranger to Colchester

An officer who has deployed on three tours of Afghanistan with Colchester-based troops has returned as Commander of Colchester Garrison.

Colonel Gary Wilkinson OBE served in Helmand Province with the town’s 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery in 2006, 2008 and as the unit’s Commanding Officer in 2010-11. He comes to Merville Barracks from a 12 month posting as Deputy Commander Task Force Helmand, leading a range of issues including supporting the development of the Afghan National Army and Police in Central Helmand.

Col Wilkinson OBE, 45, said: “I’m enormously proud to have been associated with 16 Air Assault Brigade in recent years during a time of intensive operational deployments and remember with sincere appreciation as a commanding officer the support which our families received from the good people of Colchester. I look forward very much to renewing my strong association with both the Brigade and the town.

He took over from Colonel Mike Newman MBE this week, with the latter retiring from the Army.

Col Wilkinson OBE joined the Army in 1987 and has served on operations in Bosnia, Cyprus, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. He was awarded an OBE in 2010 for his work planning operations in Afghanistan while posted to the Permanent Joint Headquarters.

After handing over command of 7 Para RHA in 2012, Colonel Wilkinson served as the Senior Military Representative at the Olympic Park. He commanded a joint force of 4,500 military personnel supporting the civilian-led security effort for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, before deploying on operations in Afghanistan for 12 months.

As Commander of Colchester Garrison, Col Wilkinson OBE is responsible for the management of Merville Barracks in Colchester, Wattisham Flying Station and Rock Barracks in Woodbridge, as well as overseeing community relations in Essex. He said: “I have the great privilege of being the Army’s representative in engaging with the civilian community here in Colchester and across Essex.

I am conscious of and very grateful for the extraordinary support that we in the Armed Forces receive from our local community and I will do everything I can to ensure that these strong relationships are maintained and nurtured.

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