Trooper Jonny Ritchie is from 3rd Troop, B Squadron, of the Royal Dragoon Guards, which is currently the Mastiff Group for the 1st Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles battle group. Here he writes about a week on the move in Afghanistan.
So what has happened since we were assigned to the Gurkhas two weeks ago? We left Camp Price to go to Patrol Base 2, taking over as the Quick Reaction Force from the Troop Leader and his merry men. I say merry because as they left I could definitely see their happiness at returning to Camp Price and its extra facilities! Once they had left it was straight to work for our call signs. I had only just started to unpack my kit and unravel my sleeping bag when we were called out on a Combat Logistic Patrol to Patrol Base 4 and CP (checkpoint) Elliot.
On returning to PB 2 and sorting out my admin (sleeping bag, bed etc) we were tasked to run guard command through the night making sure the guard sangers had communications, that there were people on guard, and passing on information from the guard tent to other locations throughout the PB. After guard duties finished at about 7am on Tuesday morning we had a rest period until lunch time. After lunch we had a briefing about a two day exercise that we were to be part of. We left camp around 2pm on Tuesday to set up snap VCPs (vehicle check points) and once nightfall came we went into all round defence. In-between guard duties the lads played cards, slept or ate. Personally, as a driver I caught up on sleep as in my job it is important not to be tired.
On returning to PB 2, and excited about fresh food, we were informed that we were still on ration packs!
The next day we took the Commanding Officer of the Gurkas to PB1 to take part in a shura with locals. While the meeting was going on I showed the Gurkhas correct hand movements at night using cylumes (neon glow sticks) or torches, as during the two day operation there seemed to be some confusion as to how to guide vehicles at night. Trooper Ritchie and his ‘bread and butter’ skills to the forefront!
So it has been a week of long hours, a lot of movement and a little more knowledge of Nepalese. When the Quick Reaction Force week is over I look forward to going back to FOB Price for all the little things we often take for granted like fresh food, proper showers, cold cans of pop and sweets. If there’s one thing being in Afghanistan does, it makes you appreciate things back home.