Monday, January 11, 2010
A father and son who are both part of 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) [2 YORKS] Battle Group currently serving in Afghanistan are finding that being with loved ones on operations can bring challenges as well as rewards.
It is not unusual for sons, and indeed daughters, to follow in their fathers' footsteps and join the Armed Forces, but few actually get to serve alongside each other on deployment.
However that is the case for Colour Sergeant Spencer Brown and his son, Lance Corporal Josh Brown, who are both members of 2 YORKS and have been posted to Helmand province as part of the 2 YORKS Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) Battle Group.
In Afghanistan, CSgt Brown is the Acting Intelligence Officer based at the 2 YORKS Battle Group headquarters at Camp Tombstone, adjacent to Camp Bastion. He also has responsibilities for mentoring his counterpart in the 3/205 Brigade of the Afghan National Army (ANA), based in nearby Camp Shorabak.
Meanwhile, son Josh is out on the ground based in Patrol Base 1 in Babaji, which was one of the most dangerous insurgent strongholds in southern Afghanistan before being secured by British forces during Operation PANCHAI PALANG in the summer of 2009.
Among LCpl Brown's responsibilities is taking part in daily foot patrols to offer reassurance to the local population and deny insurgents influence in the area. He too has responsibilities for mentoring and, as part of an OMLT, works with Afghan soldiers so that eventually they can take sole control of the area.
It is the first time that 19-year-old LCpl Brown has deployed on operations after deciding to take up the family trade - a choice that LCpl Brown feels has saved him from bad influences and dead-end jobs at home:
"It was either join the Army or go on a downward spiral really," LCpl Brown explains.
"My father being in 2 YORKS was a big influence. Our local regiment is 3 YORKS but I grew up with the Green Howards so joined up with 2 YORKS."
For CSgt Brown, hearing of his son's desire to follow in his footsteps and join the Army was a welcome moment as he knew the Service would give Josh structure to his life:
"I was glad when he said he was going to join the Army," CSgt Brown said.
"The other lads back home are so insular that they think what they have is all their life. They settle for digging holes all day or getting paid £100 a week for humping sand around all day.
"The Army gives you structure. I'm not trying to sell the Army, as we all know it can be a very hard place to work at times, but on the whole you get a good life so I was glad."
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Photo: Sgt Rob Knight RLC