Lieutenant Rob Treanor is B Troop Commander of 15 Squadron, Combat Support Logistic Regiment. In this blog he reports on a visit to PB Shazad and the awkwardness that sometimes results in being in unfamiliar surroundings…
I’ve been pretty busy over the past couple of weeks, having just got back from seven days as a Liason Officer (LO) in Patrol Base Shazad, and partnering with the Danish in an Operation to resupply two Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) in the Green Zone. Despite still being nice during the day most nights are now very cold, and it’s a real man test to stay in a short sleeved top! We have also had one day of light rain during which it was cold all day, but the weather is the same 99% of the time.
I’m not someone who gets airsick but the chopper flight into Shazad ready for LO’ing last week was pretty intense. We were constantly up and down, left and right, with mail bags flying all over the hull onto us! Having got there we got set up and worked out where all our stores would be dropped when the combat logistic patrol (CLP) came in, what needed to be recovered back to Camp Bastion, and where our vehicles would park up. If there were fewer loads then it wouldn’t require this much co-ordination but when there are twenty five ISO containers arriving, there needs to be a plan in place before the CLP arrives – or things would go pear-shaped pretty quickly.
The next morning I got up early and was on my way to get a shower. I found a tent that someone had pointed out the night before as being the shower tent, so I wandered over and opened the flap and sure enough there was loads of steam and a few naked soldiers soaping up. Not wanting to seem weird I didn’t dwell in the tent so I closed the flap and looked for somewhere to get changed. I couldn’t see anything suitable for some distance, and in the end I decided to get most of my kit off at a nearby wall, where I would leave my stuff before wandering back in my pants with my shower gel. I got myself sorted and immediately regretted getting undressed so far away as the stones I was walking barefoot on were extremely uncomfortable. Still, I couldn’t show any pain, so I gritted my teeth and strode on towards the showers.
As I got into the tent it was immediately apparent that the done thing was to hang your clothes up inside on some conveniently placed shelves. Bugger! The shower itself was nice and passed without incident, so I dried myself off and prepared for the walk back to my stuff. I got outside and was struck by how cold it was, but this was soon the least of my worries with the pain of the stones. They were spitefully sharp and I have to confess they made me walk like a complete wimp! Anyone who could have seen me then would have thought “why is that guy prancing about in the cold like a chicken in his pants?” Hopefully no-one saw me! That’s the awkwardness of being new somewhere – you’re not quite sure how anything works. I think that’s why we look forward to when new people arrive – to watch the mistakes they make!
I find the hardest times out here are Friday and Saturday nights. I always feel like I should be back home in the pub or at a party instead of being in my tent reading a book or getting an early night. I feel like I’ve got a lot of making up to do when I get back home.
On Remembrance Sunday I took a group of soldiers from the Regiment to have breakfast with some VIPs. Our guest was the British Ambassador to Afghanistan, who was especially upbeat for the time of the morning, especially given that his team Scotland had taken a hammering in the Rugby the night before! The Defence Secretary and Prince William were also at the breakfast, and it was a good chance to chat with people you wouldn’t normally come across in everyday life.
In Bastion there is a barber who cuts your hair for nothing (I’m sure he is paid somehow and doesn’t do it for the love of barbering). My hair has been getting a bit shaggy so I went to see him recently, and sitting in his chair I pointed out what grades I wanted with my fingers. As someone who normally pays a reasonable amount for a haircut – complete with shampoo and head massage – this was an experience! I don’t think savage would be overstepping the mark to describe his application of the clippers, and my neck was sore for days. Still, it was free and the bits he missed will have grown out before long!