When Brigadier Andrew Mackay was made commander of the British forces in Afghanistan last year there were some raised eyebrows in the military. After all, the career of the Elgin-born soldier had been an unconventional one for a senior infantry officer – the Hong Kong police drug squad, attachments to the United Nations in Bosnia, and a stint training Iraqi police in Baghdad.
But in fact these were the perfect qualifications for a mission in which nation-building was just as important as hunting down the Taliban.
Last week the 51-year-old was awarded the CBE for his work in Afghanistan heading up 52 Brigade, which is headquartered in Edinburgh Castle.
Mackay leaves his current post later this summer and is expected to concentrate on military policy work, building on what he has learnt in Helmand province about counter-insurgency and winning the consent of the Afghan people.
Scotland has a proud record of producing fine soldiers. In Mackay we have one who is equal to the complex challenges of the age.