SOLDIERS from York are to spearhead new rapid response operations in trouble spots across the globe.

Troops from 2 Signal Regiment, based at Imphal Barracks, will be the first to fly out to emergencies abroad to set up the new state-of-the art Cormorant communications system.

The vital equipment, which is extremely mobile, links operation commanders via telephone, email, fax and video conferencing within hours.

It is of similar speed and capability to Broadband technology, and forms part of the Army's attempt to deploy troops more speedily to emergency situations.

Specialised Spearhead units from the regiment will be on call for a month at a time in readiness for immediate deployment. Some of the soldiers will be on six hours notice to move.

Signaller James Reeves, 18, who was born in York and later lived in Selby, is a trained electrician, and is poised to be sent out to trouble spots to power up the Cormorant equipment.

"I see this as a great chance to go away," he said.

"It will be quite nerve-wracking, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.

"If they (the commanders) don't have the communications out in the field, no one would know what was going on."

Lieutenant Colonel John Botterill, commander of 2 Signal Regiment, said they were extremely excited to be given such an important role.

"We're the only regiment in the north of England to have this," he said.

"There is a certain kudos in being at high readiness. The troops are very excited about it."

Corporal Keith Hodgson, 26, who has been at Imphal Barracks for four years, said: "This is a good leap forward for us.

"It's very exciting being on rapid response. I joined the Army to get away and see the world."

Signaller Gemma Duncan, 20, said: "I've never been abroad so I'm really looking forward to it. I have a young son, but my family will be able to look after him."

The regiment will be ready to install the new system during emergency operations by the end of the year.

Updated: 10:14 Wednesday, July 06, 2005