2011, Age twenty-one
Firing live rounds down the range and into the desert terrain of Afghanistan, check zeroing my rifle prior to deploying into the hostile environments of Nad-e-Ali, Helmand Province. After three or four vital days of final pre-deployment training, acclimatisation and detailed briefings on the current situations in Afghanistan, the company and I were now on standby to deploy.
having studied the map of the area I was going into, there was nothing left for us to do but wait. Of course, we took advantage of the mass quantity of food being served on Camp Bastion, realising this had the potential to be our last cooked meal. Not only may it have been our last supper, but it may have been our last opportunity to have any means of communication with our families back home. Therefore I decided to take the opportunity to write a letter home to my parents.
Dear Mum, Dad & Sister
I have so far been very restricted on what I can tell you over the phone.
Right now, I am in Camp Bastion, Helmand Provence (full of “REMF’s” here), and we have just finished what is known as ‘RSOI’, which is rehearsals in a safe environment and acclimatisation. Now my multiple and I are on standby to move, waiting for a Chinook helicopter to fly us to our checkpoint, what will be known as ‘CP Karim’.
CP Karim is located in the North of Ned-e-Ali, where could be considered the frontline, and right opposite us (and I mean within shouting distance from us) is the FLET (Forward Line of Enemy Troops). The company has been instructed to push the Taliban and their foreign fighting comrades North and to win the hearts and minds of the local national civilians (LNC’s). We have six months to secure this area and to hand it over to the ANA (Afghan National Army).
That’s all I will say for now.
Don’t worry about me, are equipment and TTPs (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures) our awesome and we’re all over it.
Catch you later.
I can’t even begin to imagine how my parents must have felt reading this letter. They had seen the documentaries, news reports and the relentless YouTube footage of the combat taking place in Afghanistan. My dad had seen and experienced combat at first hand, having been deployed to Northern Ireland during the late eighties, against the I.R.A. Therefore I knew he had a better understanding of war and possibly a more efficient way of processing the fact that I was heading towards the frontline of war. My mother, on the other hand, may not have been able to process these facts as well as my dad. So I thought it would be best to filter some of the letters that I would send home, mainly to keep her mind at rest. Having said this, the deeper we went into combat, the more I felt she had the right to know exactly what was going on.
Did I play my cards right? Was it fair that I would share this detailed information regarding my near death experiences within these letters home to my parents?
You too have all heard the stories of Afghanistan and you have most likely seen the footage plastered all over YouTube. Be under no illusion, Afghanistan was, and possibly still is a war zone, it’s certainly not a day out in Butlins.
During my operational tour in Afghanistan, I felt it was only fair to myself, my men and my family that I would write letters home, telling everyone exactly what was occurring on that side of the planet. Consequently, I will be sharing these letters with you, throughout this chapter of my blogs.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs.
Pop back next week as we go further into this chapter, talking about my experiences in Afghanistan.
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