Britain has closed its last remaining forward base in Afghanistan.
The shutdown of Observation Post Sterga means the only UK troops still in Helmand province are at Camp Bastion, which is to close at the end of the year.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, who was in Afghanistan to mark the latest milestone in the drawdown, spoke to soldiers from the 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 Scots) who had been based at Sterga.
He said: “The closure of our last base outside Camp Bastion is another important step towards ending combat operations in Afghanistan.
“It is also an opportunity to reflect on the mission and the hard work and sacrifice of British forces. Their efforts have helped build a credible Afghan National Security Force and supported the emergence of a democratic Afghan state.”
Sterga opened in August 2013 to enable UK personnel to observe a large and strategically important area of central Helmand. Troops based there provided vital assistance in covering UK and US base closures and gave Afghan and coalition personnel a fuller understanding of insurgent activity.
Most of the personnel at Sterga were from 4 Scots, with specialist capabilities provided by units such as the Royal Artillery and the Royal Corps of Signals.
At its peak the base was home to 180 people; by its closure this had reduced to about 90.
Commanding officer Lt Col James Roddis said: “Providing a secure environment for the redeployment of a base is vital to ensure the safety and protection of our personnel and equipment. The soldiers of the cross-coalition Manoeuvre Battle Group, led by 4 Scots, have once again shown their ability and competence.
“Alongside our coalition partners we also oversaw and provided security for the closure of Laskhar Gah Durai and FOB Price in March. As the last Scottish infantry battalion in Afghanistan it has been a challenging and rewarding job being part of the drawdown of British bases in Helmand and the handover of lead security responsibilities to the Afghan Security Forces.”