Tuesday, November 10, 2009

VIDEO: Life on the frontline with the Afghan Army

Filmed on the 1 November 09. Moving along one of the many canals in the Nad-e-Ali Valley in Helmand Province, Corporal Phillip Hodgson from Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) Four 2 YORKS, noticed something odd about the troops surroundings.

The locals we just passed all took off, said Cpl. Phillip Hodgson. So keep a look out for any enemy activity. It usually means we are going to be under attack soon.
After being here for five weeks, Hodgson and the rest of the OMLT have started to notice the subtle clues that help keep them on their toes while on patrol.

Its like a sixth sense you pick up when you are out on the ground, said Lieutenant Tom Dawson, the team commander. After being out here for a month you start to notice everything going on.

Minutes later, the OMLT come under attack from small arms fire. As soon as the team hears the shots, they quickly jump into the nearby canal. The ditch is filled with waste deep water and mud that swallows their feet as they take cover from the incoming rounds.

After 40 minutes of back and forth firing, the shots from the enemy slow down and the enemy retreats after being ineffective. After the fire fight ends, the team decides to return to their compound to plan for their next mission. For these troops, these events are a near everyday occurrence.

We come in to contact with the enemy about 80 percent of the time we go out, said Hodgson.

When the OMLT goes on patrol, their primary mission is to mentor the Afghan National Army. The patrols are lead by the ANA with the OMLT supervising. The OMLT gives guidance and helps the ANA to be better Soldiers. The OMLT does not limit the training for patrols only.

When we find time, we try to give them medical lessons and practice finding IEDs and other tactical training, said Dawson.

Although the troops are mentoring the ANA, they have been learning from them as well.
They have taught us how to pick up on improvised explosive devices better and to pick up on the atmospherics of the area we are patrolling. Sometimes you even pick up on a bit of the language, said Dawson.

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