Friday, May 7, 2010

PICTURE of the Day: The Patrol

The Patrol: the means by which troops dominate the ground.

Every day, across Helmand, soldiers are out on patrol - the staple of the British soldier's routine.

These demanding and physically exhausting tasks are a visible sign of ISAF's presence and commitment to deliver security to even the most remote communities.

Left Flank, 1 Scots Guards, controls the area West of Lashkar Gah. A group of soldiers from the Company's Fire Support Group is conducting a Link-Up with soldiers patrolling from another check point. This relatively short and simple task, nonetheless, requires careful planning and execution.

Preparation. Patrol members collect and have a final brew before conducting their patrol prep.

Taking on water. Summer temperatures can reach into the high 40s. Coupled with 35 kg of weight, the average soldier must calculate on carrying 2.5 litres of water for every hour he is on patrol, simply to sustain himself.

A pause before moving. Some prep weapons, others read. Each soldier has his own way of filling the time before the patrol moves out.

Radio Check. The patrol maintains constant communications with the base.

The patrol passes through a field of wheat. Two weeks earlier, the poppy crop was still standing, waiting to be harvested.

Meeting the locals. Patrols are encouraged to stop and speak with local people as a means of gaining their trust.

It's a lonely walk at the front. The front or 'point' man is responsible for finding a safe route for his colleagues to follow. He must be ever vigilant to the IED threat.

The C21st answer to the suit of armour. Ballistic glasses, Kevlar helmet, Osprey body armour, hearing defence and knee protection. Together with other kit and ammunition, soldiers can be carrying up to 35 kg, and sometimes more, for several hours at a time.

Link up established. The two patrols meet and equipment is handed over.

Move out. A brief pause and the patrol is underway again.

Soldiers react to the order to move. The two patrols go their seperate ways.

Wet feet. The rushes give a clue as to the waterlogged soil beneath the crops. In Helmand, feet don't stay dry for long.

Return to base. Troops drop their kit and vent the sweat having completed another successful patrol. This one took 45 minutes. They will mount the second of the day in just two hours time. In total, five patrols are pushed out from this location in this one day.

Kit rests where it is laid. part only of just three people's kit awaits checks before the prep for the next patrol starts all over again.

Picture Credit: Captain Philip Atkinson SCOTS


  1. I could say lovely pictures - they are - wish they came from a film location. You are our kids out there (family/friends) talk to the locals/ are so brave...any one of those people could be there to kill you...(I wonder now if I should be sending my son socks?) What you have to put up with my emotions are so mixed - anger that you are there - but always so VERY PROUD OF YOU... I pray to God to protect you all. God Speed x

  2. Hang on guys, the 3rd Marine Division is on their way. Just taking a break from their last tour there. Good luck. Semper fi.

  3. Great to see the men at work and rest - and confident. Also refreshing to see the greenery in the landscape as well as the dust. The thought of drinking 2.5l of water an hour drives home to us the nature of the Helmand environment.

  4. Stay safe guys, from an ex-Scots Guardsman.

  5. John you need to eat more...