Monday, October 26, 2009
Grenadier Guards, Royal Engineers and soldiers of 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancasters Regiment have built a new bridge on the fringes of Nad e-Ali, near the new patrol base they have built.
Soldiers of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Battle Group, in Afghanistan less than a month, have taken over the area around Nad e-Ali from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.
Their tour, under the newly formed 11 Light Brigade, builds firmly on the work of the previous battle group and operates in a particularly volatile area known among the soldiers as ‘The Wild West’, due to the amount of insurgent activity.
Already, two major achievements highlight the progress being made in this region. We rarely hear of these results following difficult fighting and the ongoing battle against improvised explosive devices (IEDs). However, green shoots of development are appearing in this central, southern district of Helmand province.
Firstly, the guards’ battle group has installed a new patrol base north of the district centre at a key crossing point. Built by Royal Engineers attached to the battle group the patrol base houses separately, the Afghan National Army (ANA) and a British Army Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT), who guide and train the Afghan soldiers, serving alongside and supporting them.
Working as one force
The new patrol base, which has yet to be named by the ANA ensures the positions from which Taliban insurgents can engage the town are further away from the population centre. It also protects a vital bridge used by local farmers every day.
Commanding Officer of 1 Grenadier Guards Lt Col Roly Walker is keen to develop the relationship between ISAF troops, the ANA and the Afghan National Police (ANP) further. He is working hard to ensure they are seen locally acting as one force rather than three separate ones.
Reopening of a local school
Secondly, this new patrol base has been built as part of a long term plan to improve the security around Nad e-Ali, and a giant step forward has been made with the re-opening of a local school, in the district centre.
Helmand Province Governor Gulab Mangal visited the school and cut the ribbon to declare it open talking to the children and teachers. Governor Mangal was also well received at a Shura with local elders to express his commitment to the Food Zone Programme in the region, and he met with ISAF and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to discuss the progress of security in the region.
Proud to be making a big difference
The school had previously housed the British forward operating base (FOB), known as FOB Argyll and home to the battle groups operating here. The 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards have however taken over the newly built FOB Shawqat just down the road which has allowed the school to be re-built and re-opened.
The soldiers of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards are relatively new to Afghanistan but are already proud to be making a big difference for the local Afghans here.