Colonel Stuart Tootal is a defence and security expert who was commissioned into the Queen’s Own Highlanders from Sandhurst in 1988. He initially served in Germany during the Cold War and completed several emergency tours of Northern Ireland during the ‘Troubles’.
As Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA), Stuart Tootal DSO commanded the UK’s first battle group to deploy to Southern Afghanistan in 2006. Stuart’s 1,200 strong battle group was tasked with providing security to reconstruction efforts.
During their six month deployment, Stuart’s men saw near continuous combat – one gruelling battle after another – in what would become one of the most extraordinary campaigns ever fought by British troops. Relying on a few helicopters for food and ammunition resupply, troops were subjected to relentless Taliban attacks, as well as 50 degree heat and spartan conditions.
At the end of the tour, the Taliban offensive had been tactically defeated. But 3 Para paid a high price: fourteen soldiers and one interpreter were killed, and 46 wounded.
Stuart is now Head of Global Security for a major financial services provider.