KERRY Hutchinson, the TA major who penned The Press’s “Letter from Helmand” column, has returned to Afghanistan for a third tour of duty.

Major Hutchinson, who in his “day” job is a civil servant with the health and safety executive in York, is serving as a staff officer alongside the US Marine Corps in Camp Leatherneck, Helmand.

During his six-month tour of duty he will be part of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) team helping the Afghanistan government to assume full responsibility for governance once international forces pull out of the country towards the end of 2014.

Maj Hutchinson has been called up for service in Afghanistan twice before, serving in a combat role in Northern Helmand in 2008/9, and following that, as a counter-corruption team leader in 2011 working with Afghan officials trying to tackle corruption in public life.

This time, he will be working as a policy analyst, a role not that different from his main civilian job. “The only difference really, is that I’m in uniform and in a potentially hostile environment”, he said. “Working and living in the middle of the Helmand desert can get a bit dry and dusty. But for creature comforts there is of course the good old NAAFI, next door at Camp Bastion. At least you can get a cup of Yorkshire tea there.”

Maj Hutchinson is part of a UK/US policy scrutiny team that examines current policy planning to try to improve on draft policies, before they then become final.