Thursday, March 11, 2010
For Channel 4
Trooper Pete Sheppard, from the Brigade Reconnaissance Force, writes from Afghanistan where his patrol have been building bridges and getting some well earned rest.
Trooper Pete Sheppard is a radio operator with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF), which is part of Operation Moshtarak against insurgents in Helmand province.
We have spent the last couple of days in a really well equipped main base close by. We went there to replenish our water, fuel and rations and also to have a shower, wash our clothes and eat some hot food.
We managed to get some more clothing issued to us, which was handy because the days living in the field had started to take their toll on some of the guys' kit.
This also gave us the opportunity to ring home, go on the internet and buy some of those little niceties from the shop there before deploying back to our base.
Today, at 0815, I went out as part of a small patrol made up of some guys in Squadron Head Quarters (SHQ) to move a bridge crossing a canal.
When I say a bridge, it's just two ladders strapped together to increase the length across the canal, but you still get wet just over your boots. We moved this "bridge" about 100m further down a track and dug steps into the steep banks of the canal to make it easier to cross. We were back at the compound within an hour.
The locals have asked us to build a permanent bridge crossing the canal for them, so I took some pictures of the proposed bridging site to send up to higher headquarters to decide.
At about 0830, the rest of the squadron went out on a patrol. They went out for about seven hours, clearing through the small groups of compounds and interacting with the locals. The local atmospherics were good, and the troops didn't encounter any trouble.
They returned at 1430. Some of the guys from SHQ were stood at the entrance to the compound with bottles of water to give out to the lads as they came in.
It has been hot today; AJ measured the temperature to be 27.5 degrees Celsius! You can appreciate how hard it is for the troops having to patrol and run around with their body armour, helmets, ammo and bags on in that kind of heat.
Once everyone was in, they chilled out and stripped off their kit, and got some well-earned rest.
It's been confirmed that our time on the ground has been extended yet again. When our boss was telling us, he said that this was good, because this means that we actually are eventually coming off the ground. Everyone had a laugh at that.