31.10.2011, Age twenty-one
Sitting in the Operations room listening to the radio chatter and hearing our muckers fighting with the Taliban on the ground yet again, and here we were, coming to the end of our second week without a single contact. The frustration and boredom were beginning to bed in.
War isn’t always full of explosions and guns blazing, in fact, the majority of wartime consists of waiting around and watching the sun pass over the sky from one day to the next. We would sometimes go days, even weeks without seeing any action at all, and of course, this would generate a different type of threat known as complacency.
It’s easy to let your guard down after two weeks of low enemy activity but when you drop your guard in a boxing match, that’s usually when you take a direct hit square on the nose. The same applies in warfare and if you take your eye off the game for a split second, then that is when you become most vulnerable.
Fortunately, our multiple kept their foot on the gas throughout and we were all fully aware of the potential risk of becoming complacent. However, although we were able to overcome complacency, there was little we could do to reduce our frustrations when it came to missing out on the action. At this early stage of our deployment, we were all still craving a slice of the cake.
There has been very little to write about during the last two weeks, as it has been relatively quiet in our AO (Area of Operations). Our greatest threat right now is boredom and complacency.
During such long periods of low hostile activity, it is natural for one to let their guard down and become complacent, although having said this, we have all been on top of our game.
Tomorrow, the first of November, we will be utilising the extremities of the north to flank around a known Taliban area positioned in ‘The Wild West’. We plan to head out with fourteen guys, including the Terp (Interpreter), Ally – our MFC (Mortar Fire Controller) and ‘H’ – an attachment from the Para Regiment.
Although we may not hear higher ranks refer to this patrol as a fighting patrol, we all know this is exactly the type of patrol we are going on. We plan to push east, sweeping through ‘The Wild West’, and be under no illusion, we are looking for a fight. As long as there are no Apache helicopters lingering above us, we should get the reaction that we are looking for and we should find ourselves in the middle of a good scrap.
Although it has been rather boring here lately, to say the least, other call-signs on the ground have been getting the good news and to be honest, it has been somewhat frustrating for us. We usually sit in the Ops room (Operations room) listening to the net (radio) for things happening out on the ground, which mostly results in us pulling our hair out because we all want a slice of the cake and a piece of the action.
Last week, whilst listening to the radio chatter, we heard another guy from a friendly call-sign on the ground get shot in the head. The round (bullet) took the young lad off his feet but he got straight back up and continued the fight. Fortunately, the helmet saved his life.
There is some reassurance for you, that our kit is extremely good. Fair play to the young private for cracking on.
My next letter will hopefully be a letter telling you about our fighting patrol.
I’ll be in touch
So we had received our orders for a loosely titled fighting patrol and this letter had the potential to be my last letter home.
I never even considered that factor before writing this blog.
We knew that ‘The Wild West’ always had the potential for a good firefight with the Taliban, but every time we went out on patrol, an Apache Helicopter would be lingering over us. I don’t know about you, but if I were the Taliban and I had seen an Apache Helicopter in the sky, I don’t think I would have the minerals to carry out an attack on us either. This was the case and this was why we hadn’t seen any action for a while.
Reading this you may believe that’s a good thing, but if we failed to identify Taliban in the area, then how were we supposed to flush the Taliban out in order for the innocent local civilians to return to a normal and peaceful life.
This may be a conflicting argument and I’m not sure I’m entirely right, but it was certainly how I felt at the time.
With that aside, when we could hear some of our best mates who were in other friendly call-signs on the ground, fighting day in day out with the Taliban, we couldn’t help but feel like we were missing out. It felt like we were not doing our part in the fight and that was truly frustrating.
Nonetheless, in hindsight, you should always be careful what you wish for, because what we didn’t know at the time, was that we were actually going to be at the very front of the fight.
So from this experience, I guess I can take away two valuable points which I can utilise in civvy street.
1. Be patient because some things take time and they don’t happen over night.
2. Be careful what you wish for because sometimes you may get more than what you was hoping for.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s read.
I’d like to invite you back next week to hear a little bit more about our time operating in Afghanistan.
Thanks for taking the time to read this week’s blog, I appreciate the continued support.