A DORSET man is second in command of all the British and American troops in Helmand province.

Brigadier General Nick Welch from Blandford is the deputy commander to the regional command in the South West of Afghanistan.

The 48-year-old is the deputy to a United States Marine Corps General who commands 19,000 US Marines and 8,500 British personnel.

His senior role comes as the international forces begin the handover of responsibility for security to the Afghan forces.

“Part of my job is to oversee the development of Afghan Forces,” he told the Daily Echo.

“They are better than us at understanding the environment, engaging with locals and finding practical solutions.”

Brig Gen Welch moved to Blandford four years ago and his children go to Clayesmore School.

He arrived in Afghanistan in March and is spending a year embedded with the American 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.

He said: “I first deployed in 2006 and was based in Kabul and Mes-a-Sharif in the north.

“The Coalition Forces have made a remarkable difference since then. “The increased US presence has driven the insurgent away from the towns in central Helmand, allowing the population in many areas to resume a normal life.”

He is stationed at Camp Leatherneck, the American base next door to Camp Bastion, but also gets the chance to visit the soldiers.

“There is no doubt they are remarkable people,” he said.

“They face up to the many dangers in the region daily with amazing fortitude and character. Their humour and sense of professionalism is superb.”