Afghan soldiers get to grips with knots and razorwire

Sergeant Stewart Plummer is an Engineer with 21 Engineer Regiment (21 Engr Regt). He is attached to 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 SCOTS) for Operation HERRICK 12, running a Combat Engineer Course for Afghan National Army soldiers. He writes about his week.

We were worried the soldiers might cut themselves on the razor wire

We were worried the soldiers might cut themselves on the razor wire

The week started on a fairly sombre note as we said farewell to two of our comrades, Lance Corporal Baz Buxton and Sapper Daz Roy. Gone but not forgotten. R.I.P.

As we started week two of the Combat Engineer course which I am teaching, to my surprise the Afghan National Army soldiers turned up 90 minutes early!  When I asked why they had turned up so early I found out they have a big parade on a Saturday morning and they didn’t want to attend it. So just like ‘squaddies’ worldwide, they don’t like parading.  But on the other hand, it was reassuring that they would rather sit on the training ground waiting for the training to start, which tells me they really want to be there.

An ANA soldier learning new skills

An ANA soldier learning new skills

With the medics on standby out came the razor wire to begin the fencing lesson. Miraculously nobody cut themselves or their clothing, however the knots and lashings lesson was slightly more challenging for them and resulted in a few ANA tying themselves in knots which was slightly amusing.

By far the most interesting day was the basic carpentry day which we thought would be more challenging than it was. The day’s training was extremely productive. Credit to them, their accommodation now has a nice new range of furniture.

The course has just finished its second week and it’s starting to show with some of the students beginning to wane a little.  Our hardest challenge is keeping them engaged when they are not participating in the task at the time. A manful effort. It’s a good job I am blonde, otherwise I would be grey by the end of the course with all the stress of keeping it on track!