Old Eastbournian, Tom Lavington (Wargrave 1998-2003) has been awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in Helmand, Afghanistan. Tom won the Sword of Honour at Sandhurst in 2011.
Tom, a member of 1st Battalion Scots Guards, was recognised for showing the maturity under fire of a veteran, working tirelessly to look after his men and co-operating with Afghan forces.
He was commissioned in April, 2011, and after completing infantry officer training, joined his battalion in May 2012 – halfway through their mission-specific training. In September 2012, he deployed to Afghanistan and took over Checkpoint (CP) Pan Kalay – the most engaged, most northerly British checkpoint in Helmand.
An Army spokesman said, “On arrival, he faced the significant challenge of integrating into a battalion, taking over a fully trained and operationally experienced platoon and immediately taking over a much targeted checkpoint.”
“He found a dangerous security system and non-existent governance but made an immediate impact, liaising with the local Afghan and US Marine Corps forces and using charm and diplomacy, planned joint operations that moved the security stalemate forward.”
Tom's award citation states: “Lavington demonstrated leadership and diplomacy on difficult operations way beyond that expected of a junior subaltern. Despite foreshortened training and a lack of operational experience, he was able to lead his men in difficult and complex enemy engagements. In dealing with the Afghans and coalition partners, he showed maturity and judgement far in excess of his rank. Lavington’s efforts were instrumental in setting the conditions for the Afghans to take over his checkpoint and lead on improving security in the area; he really made a difference.”
The Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service recognises meritorious service during, or in support of, operations.