IN the last two weeks I have been reminded and inspired by the incredible spirit and determination of our armed forces.

In my role as secretary of state for Wales I met serving Welsh Guards on a visit to Afghanistan.

It was a particular privilege to meet guardsman Nathan Howells, 27, from Llantwit Major, lance corporal Oliver Moseley, 26, from Cowbridge and lance corporal Callum Howells, 21, from Llantwit Major who are doing a heroic job in a volatile and often dangerous environment.

During the brief visit to Afghan capital, Kabul, I was able to sit down with the soldiers of the Welsh Guards and learn more about their role in providing security and mentoring help to Afghan officials as the country’s Government continues its work of reconstruction.

There are currently 260 members of the Welsh Guards battle group deployed to Kabul as part of NATO’s resolute support mission from all parts of Wales.

I was able to visit the regiment’s base camp, sat in on preparations for a patrol and also learned more about their support for the Afghan national army officer academy – often compared to the country’s equivalent of Sandhurst – which is producing the Afghan army’s future officer corps.

Having heard from the soldiers first-hand about their life in Kabul, I am incredibly proud of what the Welsh Guards are doing.

This is a regiment with a century-long history of serving across the world in conflicts from WWII to Palestine and the Falklands.

They are now on their third tour of duty in Afghanistan, and showing the incredible spirit they always do.

Whilst I have always championed our Welsh servicemen and women, being in Afghanistan really brought home to me the work they do in dangerous circumstances.

All of Wales owes them a vote of thanks.

I was therefore delighted to be able to thank and show support to our armed forces, and their families past and present at the Armed Forces Day Parade and Festival last weekend on Barry Island.

Thank you to the council for organising such a great event and congratulations to them on the silver award from the Armed Forces Covenant Employee Recognition Scheme.

The marching parade included many Armed Forces Groups, veterans and cadets including MoD St Athan, HMS Cambria, 203 hospital volunteers, 614 squadron, cadet associations, veterans, Royal British Legion, Merchant Navy and the Royal Air Forces Association.

Thank you to all the bands who also added to the great atmosphere on the day.