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Capt Brigham’s Blog Blog 1 (6 Apr 09)


0100 hours on 20th March 2009, three days before the Muslim New Year and the beginning of OMLT 1’s Op Herrick 10. It was a calm night, morale was high for our helicopter flight to Nad-e Ali, which was due to take approx 25 minutes and would land at 0200hrs. As we arrived at Camp Bastion to see our transport which would be taking us to Patrol Base Argyll we were not surprised or confused as to why we were looking at Vikings rather than a Chinook. The 25 minute move turned in to a 9 hour epic. Imagine being placed in a box the size of a small bathroom with 6 other people and 6 months’ worth of kit, several thousand rounds of ammo, two General Purpose Machine Guns and, to top it off, no air conditioning. I know what you’re thinking - a typical helicopter flight.


After our delightful trip to PB Argyll, we were greeted by the outgoing OC and the rest of 1 RIFLES OMLT. We were given half an hour to get our bed spaces in our luxury accommodation and shake our legs before we began our takeover briefs. The briefs were detailed, covering the general area to details such as how to work and interact with Afghan National Army. It was interesting to hear that the RIFLES had a high opinion of the Afghan National Army and put a lot of our concerns to rest. The day to day living in Patrol Base Argyll is on the whole quite good. The accommodation is an old school building with sandbags as windows but it is home for the next six months. Phones are readily available and the soldiers have access to them 24 hours a day. The internet facility, however, is not so good with only two terminals which are quite slow. On the food front, we are on ration packs and a small amount of fresh whenever there is a large re-supply convoy. The best meal we have managed to get together was some flame grilled T-bone steaks cooked by Pte Betts and Healey.


Soon after our arrival, we went out on our first routine patrol around the town centre of Nad-e Ali. It was an effective way to get to know the area and also to learn the valuable lesson the outgoing OMLT had to offer. Our first patrol was to the north of the area: approx 1.5 km into the patrol, we received contact from our north but we were unable to identify the firing point. It was interesting and astonishing to see the difference in the Afghan National Army under contact compared to normal patrolling. Suddenly they were controlling their rates of fire and checking ammo before moving off. The patrol commander was almost detached from the UK call sign mentoring the Afghan National Army, while his 2ic controlled the UK element. This seems to be the best practice for OMLT patrols and has become SOP within the OMLT.


The few days passed quickly before the New Year and we were invited to eat with the Afghan National Army as honoured guests. It was a hesitant moment as we all walked over to the Kandak commander’s room for our first meal with the Kandak. I am pleased to say the meal was delicious - there were even chips for the not so adventurous and, more importantly, not a single bad stomach the next morning.


Blog 2 (13 Apr 09)


This week has seen the OMLT conduct several ops to shape and change our area of operations, including a new patrol base built by the ANA with PWRR in support and a major co-ordinated operation to Khowshhal Kalay. The patrol base was built by the ANA and surprisingly on time, even if the OC did stop in the middle of battle for lunch with the ANA CO. While at the build the ANA made a set of ladders from two tree trunks, some nails, and a few sandbags. The OC was happy to admit he had no intention of climbing to the roof until CO PWRR ventured up the ladders, which could be described as more nauseous than a day at Alton Towers.


The operation to Khowshhal Kalay was a Battle Group operation which included the Estonians. Overall, the Op was a success with everyone coming back in high sprits. The day began at 0200 and, immediately, there was some enemy resistance although we had attack helicopter and fighter planes in support so we quickly broke in. We pushed through the town and took control, occupying local compounds, while the commanders met with the town hierarchy. The compounds were what could only be described as mud shacks from the dark ages. It became apparent how different our worlds really were when Pte Davis asked where the toilet was and Pte Healey found out it could in fact be anywhere even on a ladder to the roof. The only injuries of the week were to Cpl Pollitt and Pte Nichols. The pair appeared to be dancing early in the morning; we later found out that they were covered from head to toe in itchy insect bites causing them to scratch furiously until they could get some cream from the doctor.


We are doing well and enjoying the tour: amongst the few luxuries, mail still is the biggest morale booster. However, we will be sorry to see PWRR leaving over the next few weeks. We all have our leave dates confirmed and Pte Mathews is giving me a daily count down until he is back on leave. Those who don’t have the Afghan medal have now qualified to receive it. We will get some pictures up soon of the accommodation and of us in action, so that you can see what it’s like here. We appreciate your continued support and thank you once again for the parcels and mail which are slowly but surely finding their way to us.


The Mercian Eagle


October 2009 53


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