AN army officer who successfully targeted Afghan insurgents and trained the country’s fledgling armed forces has been awarded an MBE.

Lieutenant Colonel Richard Wallwork, aged 42, from Horwich, of the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, commanded the Joint Fires team in central Helmand and was integral to thwarting Taliban insurgent groups.

His team’s work, under intense pressure, removed the threat posed by extremists and minimised civilian casualties, allowing Afghan-led security forces to gradually take control of areas.

Based at Alanbrooke Barracks, Topcliffe, Yorkshire, Lt Col Wallwork was praised for the clear and clinical direction he showed, as well as making British troops in Afghanistan safer as the number of task force patrols needed has reduced.

The Afghan Army’s mortar and artillery teams are now training their soldiers to use these weapons, a campaign which Lt Col Wallwork spearheaded.

Lt Wallwork’s citation said: “The targeting and fires system that Lieutenant Colonel Wallwork led has been one of the critical success factors of the deployment.

“It has become accepted as best practice by the ISAF Regional Headquarters and the US Regional Commander made it an early priority to visit and see how the system was run.

“He has had a ground-breaking impact on the campaign in Central Helmand, he has done this under enormous pressure, with inspirational composure and determination that marks him out for recognition.”

The announcement yesterday formed part of the release of the latest operational honours and awards list, which reflected the work of 117 members of the armed forces between September, 2012, and March, 2013, during Operation Herrick, the code name for British action in Afghanistan.