Captain Paul Green, the Press Officer for 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 SCOTS), writes about all the media attention the regiment has received so far in Afghanistan.
I have had a very busy period as the unit’s Press Officer (UPO) since arriving in Afghanistan. The first thing I had to do was tackle eight days of Reception, Staging and Onward Integration (RSOI) training to enable going ‘outside the wire’ (leaving Camp Bastion) on media assignments. RSOI consisted of a range of theatre-specific training. It was a tough start to my deployment, as my acclimatisation to the Afghan climate (temperatures of approximately 35⁰C) began at the same time. Once the RSOI package was completed I moved from Camp Bastion to Camp Tombstone to carry out essential media duties combined with overseeing administrative activity for the next 6 months.
3/215 Brigade Advisor Group is at the very heart of Commander ISAF’s vision of the future of Afghanistan, where we will eventually hand over security responsibilities to the Afghans. We coordinate the training and advising of Officers and soldiers in the Afghan National Army (ANA). Our soldiers live and work with them.
Because of this embedded partnering there is a great deal of interest in us and we get lots of visits, both from the military and the media.
Within days of my arriving in Camp Tombstone I hosted a visit from the in-theatre Combat Camera Team, filming us training the ANA. The very next day, just to keep me on my toes, I had a visit from a journalist and photographer from Defence Focus magazine – who also wanted to report on the ANA mentoring, advising and partnering. Defence Focus’s primary audience is serving UK Armed Forces personnel and MOD civilians (around 300,000 people in all). Defence Focus’s secondary audience is the wider UK defence community, including reservists, Service families, the defence industry and external defence media.
Fox News also descended on us. Reporting for them was ex-US Marine Colonel Ollie North who was a prominent figure in the Iran-Contra affair in 1986 (well some of us remember him!), and he reported live on the excellent work ISAF personnel were carrying out training the ANA in theatre specific and life saving drills.