Tearful send off for Gurkhas of 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles

Rifleman Ganesh Rana of 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles describes leaving home and arriving in Afghanistan.

A soldier carries a lot of responsibilities. He is ready whenever, and wherever, to do whatever, if the order comes from the commander.

Having these things on their mind, 1 RGR Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT – but now known as the Brigade Advisor Group) consisting of ten members  left home for Afghanistan on 9 March 2010 for Operation HERRICK 12. It was the hardest moment for them, leaving families back at home, however there were sweet memories to take along. As a tradition of the Gurkhas they visited the Temple before the journey to the airport in Edinburgh (Scotland) to fly the following day.

On 10 March 2010, it was the turn for the OMLT main body, consisting of 22 members and commanded by Sgt Buddhi as a ‘chalk’ (travel group) commander. There were no families without tears in their eyes. They were shaking their hands wishing their great warriors well.  We visited the temple before heading to Brize Norton Airport. Due to a technical problem our flight was delayed for two days. We eventually flew on 13 March 2010 at 0600hrs and had three hours transit in Cyprus, and finally arrived in Afghanistan at 2200hrs on that day. We then flew straight to Camp Bastion.

Our RSOI (arrival training) started on 14 March 2010 for eight days which was quite busy. It was a good opportunity for us to recall the things that we did during our Mission-Specific-Training (MST). In the mean time, there was Capt Houlton Hart (OC Recce) to update us about our Area of Responsibility. Finally on 21 March 2010, RSOI was completed and we headed to Camp Tombstone under command of the 1 Scots Brigade Advisor Group. That was the final battle prep day for us. The very next day 1 Section, commanded by Capt Houlton Hart, and 3 Sect, commanded by A/Capt Hotchkiss, flew to Patrol Base 2 (PB 2) and PB 1 respectively. And 2 Sect stayed in Camp Tombstone as a reserve section who had to train the ANA there.

We were firstly camp-familiarised and later updated on the things going on. In the evening we had short chat with the Afghan National Army (ANA) officers. Next day we went for a familiarisation patrol in the village.   We usually have ANA in our patrol because our main task is to liaise with ANA and conduct patrols. It is quite easy to work with the ANA because some of them speak Urdu so it is easy to chat with them. They are friendly. We push them to be punctual. Friday is the day on which the ANA take a day off (Muslim holy day). On that day, we get some down time too to sort out our personal administration. No matter how difficult it is during a patrol, everyone forgets about it when they get to call home or chat on the net with their families, relatives and friends.

We came under contact after we had been in Afghanistan for about two weeks. It lasted about 45 minutes. Some of us felt it was quite normal as we were in Afghanistan for Operation HERRICK 7.

Life in Afghanistan is extremely busy so the days, weeks even months seem short for us. The only thing we need to do is to keep working well together. For now we don’t have any problems at all that way.