Tuesday, 12th Oct 2010 10:29
An update from EarlsCourtSaint on his tour of duty in Afghanistan.
I'm now fairly settled in Lashkar Gah - the camp is no where near as big as Camp Bastion, which is as big as High Wycombe, I'm not joking, it would take half an hour to drive from one side to the other! About 15,000 Brits, Americans, Danes, Aussies, Estonians etc etc up there - the place is just immense with helicopters and aircraft buzzing around all over the place! Lash is alot smaller - I'd say about the size of Wooburn Park, and only about 1500 of us, mostly Brits, and about 20% American. The girls would love the scenery - lots and lots of very big muscular squaddies, the Yanks are particularly large, but then the Brits are far more amusing!
The only way to get here is by helicopter - they do have a private security firm (all ex military guys - that are even bigger!) with bullet proof 4x4's for any local stuff we do 'outside the wire' but for me that will be a rarity, most of the time I'll be flying out and about to all the different provinces - last week I was in a place called Now Zad to help with a basic health training programme that the locals can then pass on to their villages. Really basic stuff like hand washing, teeth cleaning, don't eat where you shit, and some basic first aid. It's tragic to think that one child in four here dies before the age of 5 - compared to one in about 200 in the UK. You can understand why this basic healthcare programme I'm working on is so important!
I travelled to Now Zad from Camp Bastion on a really amazing helicopter/plane called an Osprey - it takes off as a helicopter and then the propellers rotate forwards and it becomes a plane, bloody incredible! The 5 days there were really interesting - I saw some really bad injuries in the emergency facility they have there, again really sad to see children younger than Ashleigh that have been injured by explosives. But on the other side we also had dinner out twice with local families - really good food and amazing hospitality, my first experience of goat! Perhaps we should do it as a roast when I get back?
The American food when 'out in the field' is bloody awful - everything pre packed and then reheated in their plastic cartons. I think I told you about my Sunday breakfast last week of processed cheesy potatoes with some meat bits in - hmmmm, yum!
I left Now Zad on a CH53 Helicopter, about the same size as a Chinook but only one propeller. It really is amazing to be waiting out at the landing site in the complete pitch dark (the night sky in the desert is incredible!) and then from nowhere you hear a helicopter coming, with no lights on, that then lands about 50 ft from you. We then flew back to Camp Bastion, again in the pitch dark and in full body armour, helmets and with weapons - all very heavy and consequently sweaty - maybe thats why they all fly with the doors open!
The next day it was a quick 15 minute Chinook flight down here to Lash and 'moving in' to my 8ft x 6ft bedspace in an 8 man tent - each 'pod' is seperated only by sheets/blankets hanging up on string and secured by clothes pegs, so not too much privacy! My predecessor was kind enough to leave me several copies of Nuts, FHM, Maxim and Zoo, but try as I can no sign of anything raunchier!
3 days later it was back up to Bastion, this time on an Osprey again, for a meeting with the Americans I work with - as we landed at the VIP spot (we had a General on board) my bloody seat collapsed and I ended up in a pile on the floor! Apparantly they are designed to do that if you get a heavy landing, although it was only mine that did it, perhaps because of a heavy Colin - apparantly the General found it very amusing!
Coming back from Bastion on Friday afternoon and it was a Royal Navy Sea King that we flew on - the most uncomfortable flight I have ever had! It's already hot enough out here and guess which muggins clearly sat on the seat which is above the exhaust! My bloody ass was red hot, and that before we even took off! During the flight it was so uncomfortable that I had to keep on moving from cheek to cheek and thigh to thigh to try and relieve the burning - two hours later after the flight and my bum was still sore!
OK, well thats about it for now, please do try and find time to write soon with all your news - I'm off for lunch soon and the food is so good here that you really don't want to miss out on any meals! I did weigh myself last week and had lost about 4kg, but I suspect that may have already gone back on again since I've been here!
Photo: Action Images
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