BRITISH Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) reporter Shirley Swain has been in Afghanistan visiting 12 Brigade and has sent back this report for Forces Briefing.
She visited the King’s Royal Hussars, who are based across Helmand Province and are heavily involved in the transition of the area, helping to train Afghan Police and the Afghan National Army.
Sergeant Chris Pople, 32, KRH is on his first tour and is the Commanding Officer’s escort. “It can be pretty dangerous,”he said.
“We have been into a few situations that we would rather not have been in. In Lashkar Gar the security is pretty solid, but out on the transit routes, mainly Route Elephant, the IED threat is pretty high.”
He also worries about his girlfriend Charlotte, who is based a few kilometres away with B Squadron. “A lot of people say to me that it is easier for me because she is part of the same regiment, but I get to see and know what is happening there on a daily basis and it puts the fear of God into me.”
“I can’t really explain the feeling, it comes from the pit of your stomach, through your heart and then into your head you can’t help but feel bad things, but I have total faith in B Sqn and they will do everything possible to look after each other and her.”
C Squadron is based in the Babaji region where Lieutenant Edward Astley- Birtwhistle is serving.
“Two years ago this area was full of Taliban and now we have got to the stage where we have handed back our last Check Point (CP) to the Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP). This area used to have three companies in it, now there is just one squadron group, which shows how much better things are.”
“The area is very busy now and the local nationals are really friendly and on side. They have witnessed firsthand the benefits of having security in this area and they are very happy to have the local police here who are all locally recruited so they all have a vested interest in keeping this area secure.”
Trooper Ryan Kingston, 19, from KRH is also working with C Squadron and is a dog handler with his dog Virginia.
“You get the best of both worlds doing this job – dog handler and infantry soldier – you get the dog for reassurance and the handler has a rifle so we are a double asset to any patrol,” he said.