'Time To Switch On'
2011, Age twenty-one
So here I stood, in a small hollow square mud structure referred to as a compound. Walls up to ten feet high made out of mud, straw and s**t. This was all that protected us from the hostile and dangerous environments of Nad-e-Ali, Helmand Province. This compound would also be known as our home for the next six months.
I remember walking out of the highly reinforced security door of CP (Checkpoint) Karim for the first time (if only you could hear the sarcasm in my voice, regarding the reinforced security door). Stepping out into the fields of Nad-e-Ali, knowing full well that this s**t was for real. Something hit me psychologically, and with all my senses kicking into high alert, I knew it was time to switch on.
For the first week being deployed on the ground, we conducted small local patrols in order to gain confidence in our TTP’s (Tactics, Techniques & Procedures) and to establish a rapport with the local nationals. It was hard to distinguish the difference between those who appreciated our presence in the area and those who were anticipating the next opportunity to kill us.
With our first week of deployment slowly rolling into the second week, I was becoming more comfortable living in CP Karim. Being well within a routine by this point, I took the opportunity to write another letter home:
( 14.10.2011 )
Dear Mum, Dad and Sister,
I have been here in my checkpoint for a week now, and we have been on patrol every day since being deployed. We try to conduct a patrol for a duration of three to five hours, at least once a day. The aim of our patrols at this stage is to show a presence of ISAF Forces (International Security Assistance Force) and to dominate the ground in order to disrupt Taliban movement.
The men and I have been moving across the ground fast and aggressive, and with our chests out. Moving across the ground as quickly as possible without staying in one location for too long prevents the Taliban from being able to fix us in position.
I believe this is the reason why our call-sign has not yet been in contact (engagement with the enemy). However, it is clear that we are being ‘dicked’ (observed or recceed) because we can see them watching us every time we go out.
We recently went on patrol, leaving two of our guys back in the checkpoint, along with four Afghan police…
The checkpoint got hit by the Taliban, who were engaging an Afghan convoy that happened to be passing the CP (checkpoint). At this point, I and the rest of the multiple were out on the ground a few hundred meters away and we could still hear the cracking of the 7.62mm rounds, as they whizzed through the air.
Not being able to reach anyone from the CP on our radios, certainly put our arse into gear.
On arrival back at the CP, it turned out that our guys were ok and in fact, the Afghan police had given the Taliban hell. Right now, we are receiving Intel (Intelligence) on Taliban movement in our area. I can only predict, that our engagement with the Taliban will be very soon.
That’s a rough outline of what’s currently going on out here.
Maybe my excitement, enthusiasm or possibly the adrenaline still coursing through my veins drove me to write this letter home to my family. I never even considered that this information of high probable engagements with the Taliban would have my parents worried sick.
Five years on from sitting in CP Karim writing this letter, I may have just realised that by writing these letters home, I was, in fact, processing the events which occurred at that time during my deployment.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, I really do appreciate the continued support and I hope you enjoyed the read.