Teenage soldiers frozen to the core during training at Westdown Camp yesterday will be thrust into their first operational environment in temperatures that will reach 50C (122F) before their six-month tour is over.
Facing his first venture to Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, 19-year-old Rifleman Aaron Fell, of 2 Rifles, who joined the Army 18 months ago, is fully aware that as a member of a recce platoon he will be involved in seeking out the Taleban. His cheeks bright red from the cold, he repeated what his training instructor must have told him: “The Taleban are adapting to us but we're adapting to them.”
Rifleman Fell, from Bournemouth, is one of about 4,000 soldiers attached to the Black Panthers who will be the first in the British Army to go to war with a set of individually fitted digital earplugs to prevent deafness caused by the constant noise of high-velocity rounds, mortar rockets, heavy machinegun fire and other explosions.
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