13 Mar 2010

Afghan soldier blog: the uncertainty of war

Trooper Pete Sheppard, from the Brigade Reconnaissance Force, writes from Afghanistan about being constantly on alert for those unexpected days.

Afghan soldier blog: the uncertainty of war

Trooper Pete Sheppard is a radio operator with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF), which is part of Operation Moshtarak against insurgents in Helmand province.

Today we got up for 0700. It was already quite warm so we knew it was going to be a hot day.

The first patrols left our location at 0900 on foot in order to secure a vehicle check point (VCP) and interact with locals.

At 1050 another one of our troops got airlifted by helicopter 4km away. The plan was for the guys at the VCP to draw the insurgents out to them and then the guys dropped off by the helicopter could cut them off. Simultaneous to this, another patrol left our location by foot as a back up, in case something happened.

Strangely nothing happened.

The insurgents were very quiet all day, maybe due to the losses they received yesterday. There were a few suspicious locals but nothing came of this. The patrols returned early afternoon when the sun was in its prime.

The thing with this place is you never know what the days going to bring.

You can prepare yourself for a big engagement – and we all convince ourselves its going happen – and the day goes off without a whisper. And other days – routine days when it should be quiet – all hell breaks loose.

The weather has increased by over five degrees this week. Lads are returning off these patrols dripping in sweat.

They look exhausted – but they continuously soldier on and are constantly ready to get called out again – ready for those unexpected days.

Still getting bitten, but the anti-histamine cream is helping. Slowly.

One day closer to home.