A Company Blog... A Week In The Life of Multiple 2
2nd June 2011
20 May 2011.... A Company’s week has been dominated by our first big Company operation, a helicopter assault deep into insurgent territory in the North of our Area of Operations. 60 Riflemen from the Company took part in the operation, moving back to Camp Bastion for rehearsals the night before and deploying by helicopter early in the morning.
The initial landing went without any major problems, although Lance Corporal Ingram will probably never forget getting bogged down in waist-deep mud the moment he stepped off the tailgate of the Chinook helicopter and having to be dragged out by the OC!
The first task of the day was to search a series of compounds in conjunction with a Royal Engineers Counter-IED team, which was achieved in typical A Company style – quickly and efficiently. By this time, the insurgents were well aware of our presence and the Riflemen on sentry quickly spotted the scouts they had sent out to locate and keep an eye on our movements.
After searching and clearing the compounds we were interested in, patrols began to go out to visit some of the surrounding villages, and at this point the insurgents began to make their intentions known with a direct attack onto our defensive positions. This set the tone for the rest of the day, with a running battle between the Company and insurgents lasting from early morning until after dark. Despite the difficulty of identifying where the enemy were shooting from because of the lush foliage covering the Green Zone during the summer months, the Riflemen of A Company acquitted themselves superbly, and working in conjunction with mortars, Apache attack helicopters and Fast Air Jets, they were able to destroy several of the insurgent positions.
The Company’s marksmen, earned their money for the day by constantly spotting and targeting the enemy from their rooftop positions, but sadly one of our number, LCpl Cain, was struck by a stray insurgent bullet while he was trying to locate an enemy sharpshooter. The men around him immediately gave him first aid and an emergency medical helicopter was called in, and he was in the Camp Bastion hospital within the hour. Fortunately, the injury he received was a minor flesh wound, and we fully expect him to be back in action in no time at all – proof that the medical system in place in Helmand Province is second to none.
After a long and exceptionally hot day’s fighting, the Company “dug in” for the night, and waited for the helicopters home. Unfortunately, the insurgents had tried to block the way out by opening sluice gates to flood the fields, so the “tab” out to the helicopter landing site was a long, wet slog up an irrigation ditch at 0300hours. LCpl Ingram, not the tallest man in the Company, again had all sorts of fun as the water came up to his chin!
But the Company got safely to the extraction point and our Air Controller, Cpl Admans, quickly called in the helicopters to extract the Company back to PB4 for bottles of chilled water, bacon sandwiches and some well-earned sleep in the knowledge that the Riflemen had done an excellent job in some of the toughest and most trying of circumstances. The OC commented: “A great day in Helmand!”
A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF MULTIPLE 2
“Having spent the first two weeks of the tour in Checkpoint Anar, it was nice to return to PB4.
Checkpoint life is good, as we were pretty much left to our own devices. We have a patrol programme to stick to but the remainder of the time was pretty much our own and I was keen for the Riflemen to get as much relaxation and chill-out time as possible.
After just two weeks, the return to PB4 was welcomed by my Multiple – 24-hour ration packs become pretty boring after two weeks, as does seeing the same 11 other faces every day – so it was nice to have some fresh food and catch up with some of the other lads in different Multiples.
On return we rotated straight into being the Patrols Multiple. This would generally consist of two patrols of about three hours’ duration each day. These patrols for some of the blokes were pretty tiring, especially in the heat of the day, but they could guarantee pretty much a “straight eight” every night as they were not required to “stag on” in the sangars.
During our time as Patrols Multiple we were lucky enough to conduct an operation to the north as part of the Company. This involved us going back to Camp Bastion to conduct orders and rehearsals and then an aviation assault into a few insurgent hotbeds.
Within the 24 hours we were involved in several engagements with the enemy. For many of the Riflemen in my Multiple, and the Company, this was their first time in contact, and they didn’t disappoint – we gave the enemy a good bloody nose within 24 hours, and the use of our own Mortar Platoon and Attack Helicopters proved to be battle-winners on the day, along with the bravery of the Riflemen.
The operation was deemed a success, having disrupted and killed a number of insurgents and receiving only one minor casualty of our own. My Multiple is now back to reality – “stagging on” in the sangars!”
Serjeant Nick Ireland, 2 Platoon, A Company.
“I am Lance Corporal Josh Hale, and I’m serving on my second tour of Afghanistan. I was last here on Op Herrick 9 in 2008/09, and in that short time away from here, loads has changed. The training we get – and also the training the Afghan National Army and Police get is far more advanced, and the kit we are issued is 10 times better that it was for the role a Rifleman has to do out here.
We are based in PB4, which has some of the best welfare facilities I have seen in a Patrol Base. We also spend time living in the checkpoints, which are mostly local compounds – little more than mud huts – but it’s one of the best places for a Rifleman.
For many of the Riflemen this is their first tour of Afghanistan, but everyone is doing their job to the best standard they can. Each man has a role to play, whether it’s on the ground or back in camp doing administration. My role out here is as third-in-command of a 12-man Multiple – and also as a machine gunner, which I love!
The hardest thing to deal with out here is the heat (it’s in the mid-40s already). With all of our kit, water and ammunition it comes to a fair bit of weight, which takes its toll on the blokes, but it does not mean that they stop doing their job.
It can be hard for the Riflemen with families. I have a 1-year-old son who I miss more than anything, but I know I have a job to do, and it’s what I joined up to do – I wouldn’t change it for anything!
We all live close together out here for the whole tour, so we have a good crack, and we all know that we will do everything for each other out on the ground and in camp. The biggest bit of morale we get is the mail, especially parcels, so they are very much appreciated by everyone.
In the short time my Company has been here I am proud of all the Riflemen I am serving with: as everyone knows – Once a Rifleman, Always a Rifleman!”
Lance-Corporal Josh Hale, 2 Platooon
“I’m Rifleman Viener Gaston, and I am the point (or lead) man in my Multiple – which I love! This is my first tour of Afghanistan, and for most of the boys it is, but it’s nothing like what I pictured it to be. We have been in to some of the villages and the locals were very friendly, which made us feel welcome and made me feel good about myself because I feel like I am doing something to help the people here.
The kit we are given is among the best, and it’s great for troops on the ground here in Afghanistan, so I feel safe and secure stepping outside the front gate of the Patrol Base. The sun and heat here plays a big role when we go out on patrols. Some of us just aren’t used to working in these temperatures!
The PB gives you some feeling of being at home. Some of us do get homesick sometimes, but we have a good gym and a great welfare tent, which helps us out a lot, and so far I am really enjoying my first tour of Afghanistan.
Rifleman Viener Gaston, 2 Platoon, 21 May 11
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