Monday, July 27, 2009

Radio City: Visiting the troops in Afghanistan: Louise Martin's frontline diary

Radio City journalist Louise Martin is visiting British forces in Afghanistan, and as part of her trip will be writing a special diary for the Liverpool Echo, as well as sending back pictures and reports from the front line.

FLYING into Afghanistan was the most eerie felling I’ve ever had in my life.

All the reporters were looking at each other as we got closer thinking what on earth are we about to get into.

We flew the final leg into base on a C17, a Hercules type personel carrier, and because of that we had to wear the body armour I’ll need to get used to for the first time.

We were on board with some soldiers who have never been to a war zone before. Some of them were as young as 18, but they managed to sleep most of the way resting their heads on helmets – I was too nervous.

As we came in the lights were turned off and all the soldiers around us bowed their heads.

We are now based in Camp Bastion in Helmand Province. It is flat here and basically a desert.

We have already done a lot. We have seen how the army deal improvised explosive devices. The people we met were so brave.

We went to see the dog handling team which was fantastic and we have had a look round the medical centre. The boys there had fractured jaws and fragment injuries.

I was also really impressed that they were helping Afghan people. I saw them treat two little Afghan girls.

I am now living among 4,500 troops. Around 1,000 are American and there are some Danish here too.

Sand gets everywhere and my hair is sticking up in spikes constantly, but the men out here are so respectful.

They hold the door for me and the respect for their superiors is evident every minute. At mealtimes it is most noticeable.

In my place of work we call the canteen the zoo. But here they are quiet at mealtimes and the order is amazing.

They enjoy banter between each other and you can always hear them joking, but under that is a sense of focus.

Louise will be updating her diary regularly throughout the week.

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