Lieutenant James Wakeham, Press Officer for 4th Regiment Royal Artillery (4 Regt RA) recounts his first trip to Sangin.
After a short helicopter ride from Camp Bastion our stomachs churned as the pilot dropped at breakneck speed into the Sangin Valley and FOB Jackson.
All of the Gunners there are in high spirits and have settled into their routine well. The welfare facilities are excellent, with access to phones, internet and a well-established television room with BFBS, DVDs and computer games. The accommodation is also pretty good, and everyone has a cot bed and their own personal space. The food in camp is fairly basic, with a mixture of both rations and fresh food, but there is more than enough to go around.
There is a river which runs through the camp, where the guys and girls can have a refreshing dip when the afternoon heat is really at its peak (duty depending of course). It is a particular favourite for troops that have just got back from a foot patrol and wish to cool off. A great source of morale!
There are a large number of both Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police that work in the area, which is good to see, as it shows how real progress on the ground is being made by the local forces that are being recruited to take control of their own country. Added to this is the ‘Avenue of Hope’ which has been built by the locals as part of an ISAF initiative, providing a school, hospital, government buildings and the home of the District Governor. The bazaar in town is also growing all of the time as Sangin starts to recover from years of conflict.
Just before leaving we called in on Gunner Jonathon Brown who is based in one of the small patrol bases in Sangin with 40 Commando. He is there as the only Gunner but ever cheerful, a testament to the spirit of the ‘North East Gunners’.