26 Feb 2010

Identifying insurgents on the Afghan frontline

Trooper Pete Sheppard, stationed in Afghanistan, writes: “We are aware that the insurgents are watching us, which is frustrating as we can’t visually identify them”.

Identifying insurgents on the Afghan frontline

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

The Ministry of defence announced today a soldier attached to the BRF died following an explosion in Nad Ali. His next of kin have been informed.

In his next dispatch tomorrow, Trooper Sheppard is expected to comment on the incident and pay tribute to his fellow BRF soldier.

It was an early start this morning. Everyone only had about four hours kip – minus an hour on stag duty.

We leaguered up (putting the vehicles in a defensive formation) on the outside of a small patrol base close to the area we would be going in to exploit over the next few days.

The base is surrounded by a wall of HESCO. This provides protection to the people inside; but it seems we are on the outside providing greater security for the base.

The troops left early this morning on clearance patrols. However, no insurgents were seen nor even any evidence of them.

A small number of the compounds had been set up with IEDs but the lads spotted these and information got passed up informing the headquarters of the situation on the ground.

We are aware that the insurgents are watching us, which is frustrating as we can’t visually identify them unless they are doing something incriminating.

However, attached to us are the Afghan Task Force, and they are able to spot someone who is suspicious and pick up on the small things that look out of place. It really makes a difference having them with us and we rely on their local and cultural knowledge.

When the guys got back, we started our routine which included grabbing the opportunity to catch up on sleep before the next day.

One of the guys on my wagon, Donny, is due home in 28 days today. He is sure to remind us each day of this countdown to see if people bite. He is a funny guy and has a small boy back home who is very mischievous going by the stories he tells me of him.

Just chatting like this I think everyone is keen now to return home and see our family and friends.

But the good thing about the Forces is the guys you work with; the banter and the jokes. Squaddies have their own sense of humour which most of the time can only be appreciated by other squaddies! And when we are out on tense operations like this it is vital that our sense of humour is maintained.

We will be out here for a few days and this area is not fully cleared of insurgents, so it will be interesting what tomorrow brings.

In the meantime another lad called Joe that I work with likes to give us a riddle to try to solve. It gives us something to think about whilst on stag. So here is today’s….

What goes up a drainpipe down, but not down a drainpipe up?