This story is a strange one as the Staffords are due to be amalgamated into 3 Mercian next year. So you could say that the Staffords will never get another active deployment. Comments please. STAFFORDS GET COMBAT BREAK More Headlines | Back to home page 2 readers have commented on this story. Click here to read their views. ROB PARSONS 15:00 - 31 July 2006 Staffordshire Regiment soldiers should be spared active combat for more than three years when they return from their six-month tour of war-torn Iraq. The regiment is set to depart for Basra in October - less than a year after coming back from a stay in the Middle East which saw five soldiers killed in active service. Speaking from the Staffords' training base in Canada, Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Tim Sandyford said plans drawn up by the Ministry of Defence would mean the troops would not return to action until 2010 at the earliest. But he admitted the timetable could change if the British armed forces found themselves committed to military action in another part of the world. The decision to commit the regiment back to the Maysaan province prompted outrage from the families of many soldiers, with some contacting The Sentinel before the announcement was made official. But Burslem-born Lt Col Sandyford said that despite the unexpected news, morale among the troops was still good. He said: "I accept the decision was not something that got us putting the bunting around our houses but it was accepted in good, old-fashioned Staffordshire fashion. "It is six months earlier than we expected we would be back. In the current plans, it would be at least three years before we have another operational tour. "We can't control world events but this is based on the assumptions we have got. Unless we find ourselves committed to another theatre of operation, we will be able to reconstitute." He added: "Although we have two tours close together, we have to remember that we had a pretty decent gap before that." The Staffords were sent to the Maysaan province for six months last year as part of Operation Telic. Soldiers had to cope with grenade attacks and roadside bombs as they worked to restore order in and around Basra. Private Leon Spicer and Private Phillip Hewett, from Tamworth, and Second Lieutenant Richard Shearer, from Nuneaton, were killed by a roadside bomb in the Risaala neighbourhood of central Al Amarah in July 2005. In September, an armoured vehicle from the regiment was petrol bombed during a raid on a police station in Basra, where two British soldiers were being held prisoner. Many of the troops will know what to expect in Basra, as the regiment's A Company was stationed there in 2005. Last month a state of emergency was imposed in the city after increasing outbreaks of sectarian violence. Lt Col Sandyford said the decision to take troops back to Iraq was not taken lightly. He said: "We know it was a very hard decision the chain of command took."