Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hunting the Taliban

By Paul McNamara, Defence Correspondent,

THE News of the World has been on patrol with our boys in the badlands of Afghanistan. Our mission: To bring you up close to the harsh realities of a war claiming British lives week after week, year after year.

REPORTER Paul McNamara and photographer Louis Wood spent four days with the fearless troops of 1st Battalion The Coldstream Guards for a dramatic first-hand look into new tactics being used to beat the Taliban.

Bullets flew, grenades exploded and Britsh blood was spilled as they were dropped into one of Helmand's most dangerous regions in a dawn helicopter swoop.

Picking their way through poppy fields and ditches as they dodged the gunsights of snipers, our team saw at first hand the torturous and often treacherous task our soldiers face in this Helmand hell.

They found that they are fighting not just the Taliban, but also a tense and dangerous battle for the hearts and minds of local Afghans in a bid to sow the seeds of peace.

We sit cross-legged in a circle in the dust of an Afghan village, drinking tea... but tasting only fear.

Between sips, soldiers with tense smiles chat cautiously face-to-face with "friendly" elders at this bizarre little rendezvous deep in Taliban country, trying to open up pathways to some far-off peace in Afghanistan.

But there are dark forces at work in the silence between the words in a land where you're never more than a cup of tea away from a fight.

And where the man who just poured it may be the one who pulls the trigger.

As you sip, over the rim you learn to search the eyes deep in the burnished faces, looking for the tiniest flicker... of betrayal.

BANG! Suddenly we are scrambling for cover amid screamed commands as we leave the meeting. RAT-A-TAT! RAT-A-TAT! Taliban gunfire coming from 50 metres away. Get down! Bullets zing only feet over our heads.

"They're just spraying and praying." Coldstream Guardsman Mike Stacey, 21, from Sheffield, tries to reassure us amid the mayhem. Then we move. Fast.

For the full article click here for the News of the World

1 comment:

  1. Great reporting - sad to say, you said it - who can be trusted? You know, I get so fed up hearing we are trying to win 'hearts and minds' - if these people don't know by now that the majority of the world is trying to help them - when will they? The reality is our soldiers are being injured and dying and I don't mean just the UK, but all Nato forces - Take Care All - Proud of You. x