The Frontline of a War-Torn Country

2011, Age twenty-one

Sitting upon a wooden box with a toilet seat fixed in place, and a plastic bag positioned strategically beneath the hole which the toilet seat was located over. With the risk of a grenade coming over the wall at any moment, and with the possible chance of coming under attack at any given time during the day, I had to go about my business as quickly as one man could physically do so. This is the simple task of going for a s**t, in a hostile environment.

Nonetheless, at least I had a comfortable toilet seat to sit my arse on, and four walls of plywood to provide me with the privacy. Health and hygiene are vital in the field, as there is no room for the added risks of infections and viruses. Therefore, it was essential for us to have a designated toilet and shower area. We pissed into four-inch drainage pipes which were dug into the ground, and we disposed of our s**t bags on the burns pit. One poor volunteer from the multiple (team), would have the glorious task of burning fourteen men’s worth of s**t, and fortunately, the volunteer wasn’t me.

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There was neither time to hang about in the shower for too long, not only because of the potential threat of an attack on the CP (CheckPoint) but also because we had a limited water supply. As well as the importance of hydration, we would also need to wash with the rationed water. This was rather refreshing during the hot seasons of Afghan, however, when winter came, the ease of showering became more of a challenge due to the bottled water freezing to solid ice.

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Some may have considered these awful living conditions, but what else was to be expected from being on the frontline, of a war-torn country. I for some strange, maybe psychotic reason, found these living conditions rather fulfilling. It ticked all the boxes for living on the frontline. I felt a strange satisfaction from living in, what may be referred to as a ‘hard routine’ because it felt like what I expected war conditions to feel like.

I guess this rather strange satisfaction stemmed from the fact that I was now doing what many senior infantry soldiers and other war veterans had all done before. All these Infanteers who already had the deserved respect for enduring war conditions in Northern Ireland, Iraq and the Falklands, these men who I admired and looked up to, and now I was living there myself.

( 15.10.2011 )
Dear Family,

This is some real frontline s**t.

Our Checkpoint (CP) is a mud structured compound, located on the outskirts of a tiny Afghan village. The compound is roughly fifteen meters by ten meters and it is very basic. However, we have adapted it to suit us and it is nearly fully operational.

There are only fourteen of us here occupying the checkpoint, and five Afghan Police situated next door. Despite all the reports and rumours of the Afghanistan Police being crooked and bent dodgy f**kers, the AUP (Afghan Uniformed Police) that are here beside us, seem to be working together well. Although, on the flip side, their skills and drills are rather sketchy.

There has been the odd occasion when we have come across possible I.E.D’s (Improvised Explosive Devises) and the AUP felt confident, or in my opinion, stupid enough to advance up to the possible I.E.D and persist in giving it a good old kick and poke…. crazy ! I guess it saves us having to go anywhere near it.

We are on rations here and having to use bottled water to wash with. There is also a satellite phone which we can use for thirty minutes a week, but the signal is s**t. Therefore, I have given up on them means of communication.

Dad, I have now turned to the dark side by drinking more coffee than tea.

I will keep you guys updated as much as I can, but our resupply chain is very limited, so it may take a few weeks between sending and receiving letters. Nonetheless, today everyone got mail except for me….
I guess it could be worse, as one of the guys was rather excited to receive his letter today, only to be disappointed when there wasn’t actually anything written on the letter at all!

Who sends a letter, without actually writing anything on the letter ?

Peace out .

Receiving letters on the odd resupply, was great for morale, and receiving a shoe box was even better. There was nothing more joyful than receiving a wrapped up shoe box filled with goodies, especially when your own father decides to send you out a remote control for a Sky Box… an essential piece of equipment for being in Nad-e-Ali, Helmand Province. Thank you, Dad.

Eating rations day in, day out can very soon become rather boring and tasteless. So receiving a shoe box filled with coffee sachets, biscuits and Haribo was always warmly welcomed into the CP. Therefore, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of those who once took the time to send out a parcel to me and the guys in Afghanistan.

I have so much more to say about the living conditions in warfare, for example, my appreciation for hot showers and a cooked meal every night. The fact I can now take care of my ‘paperwork’ in the bathroom, without worrying about the risk of coming under attack half way through, is something I truly value. The water bill may not look so pretty but having a long warm shower is worth so much more to me now than ever before.

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Anyhow, I am fully aware that I may have already sent you into a deep sleep. So to that end, I would like to thank you all for taking the time to read this week’s blog. I appreciate the continued support and I hope you have enjoyed the read.

Take care, see you next week.

Jamie

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