Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Back from the front - Camp Bastion

By WO2 Sean Semple writing for The Mirror

ALONG with 15,000 NATO troops WO2 Sean Semple has been on Operation Moshtarak and kindly agreed to file frontline diaries for us whilst there.

This is the last of his reports as he is probably heading to other tasks and the Royal Engineers, to whom he was attached, are moving on.

Here's what the married father-of-two from Edinburgh had to say about his final hours on Moshtarak - the biggest ever joint operation in Afghanistan since 2001:

There is the slightest chance that we might complete all our tasks today and head back into Camp Bastion tonight, morale is on the up.

Our task today is to clear a route in order for the Royal Engineers to build a bridge over a large river, so the Trojan tank leads the way to the bridge build site.The bridge is not only going to provide an essential crossing point for the resupply of the forward patrol bases, but it will also enhance the quality of life for the local nationals.

The current method of crossing the river consists of pieces of wood bound together to act as a raft and a length of rope with which to pull yourself across.

Primitive but effective all the same.

It is certainly a lot hotter today, there is a far greater need to consume water when out on the ground in the heat.

For a soldier to go down with a heat related injury not only presents his colleagues with the additional burden of being a man down, but potentially the need for one if not more to provide critical medical assistance also.

The climate in this place is mad, it can be below freezing at night time and absolutely roasting hot during the day.

The face and neck is building up a nice bit of colour, the nose taking the brunt of the sun, the resemblance to Rudolph just now is strikingly similar.

I can almost hear the lecture from my wife about putting sun cream on. The rest of the body remains proudly Scottish white though.

After the bridge is assembled successfully, the decision is taken to head back to Camp Bastion to allow the Vikings group to prepare for their next task.

A long and dusty drive through the desert follows, we drive past a US counter IED team disposing of a device in the middle of nowhere, these bloody IEDs are everywhere.

As we arrive in Camp Bastion, we are met by WO2 Taff Williams, one of the Squadron Sergeant Majors, he greets us warmly and is pleased to see us back in one piece.

His relief is very quickly replaced by sarcastic mickey taking about appearing in the paper, squaddies do not do publicity very well.

First off the vehicles are the weapons, ammunition, and personal equipment.

Absolutely everything is covered in sand, all the kit is emptied and separated, some equipment is handed back in straight away after a quick clean.

A shower later on comes as welcome relief, as does a coffee and further squaddie banter.
Although the MSG is back in camp, there are still many more soldiers still out on the ground playing crucial roles in continuing to provide safety and improved infrastructure to the people of Afghanistan.

These guys do not have the luxury of having a shower, or relax in relative comfort.

Weeks to go for the troops on this Operational tour are getting few, and most will allow themselves to think about what they intend to spend their well earned post Op tour leave doing.

There are still many hurdles to jump until the tour is over, but you can rest assured that we are all doing our level best over here.


  1. Well done, nice to know you and the others got back safe a sound.

  2. Good to hear you got back safe.
    Keep your fingers crossed for everyone else, particularly those that are spending the entire tour at the PB's without even the basic comfort that a FOB provides.

  3. Don't worry our lord Jesus will protect each one of you.