Sergeant Dale of 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (3 MERCIAN) – currently deployed on Operation HERRICK 14 in Afghanistan – writes from Patrol Base Attal in the Lashkar Gah Area of Operations with an update on life for 4 Platoon.
The end of April saw my time in the Green Zone come to an end. I was re-tasked and took over as 4 Platoon Sergeant.
4 Platoon are currently working as part of C Squadron, Scots Dragoon Guards, from Patrol Base (PB) Attal in the Lashkar Gah Area of Operations (AO). The main role of the group is to disrupt enemy freedom of movement along the main route into Lashkar Gah from the East.
I arrived at PB Attal at around 0100hrs on 1 May after spending about 6 hours sat at the helipad in Camp Bastion waiting for my delayed support helicopter flight. As I arrived at PB Attal, I noticed there seemed to be an unusual amount of activity inside. An hour later, as I was sat in the back of a Warrior with all my kit on my back, I realised why. The Squadron Group was conducting a Deliberate Operation in order to detain a number of suspected individuals. The Operation was successful, and several arrests were made.
Life in Attal has continued at pretty much the same pace since my arrival.
The PB itself is one of the more basic I’ve been to. That said, life in a PB is what you make of it. Attal has a number of amenities for the welfare of the troops here. There’s a welfare tent which provides a couple of internet terminals, a text link terminal as well as a rather large TV with DVD player and BFBS, and another with a PlayStation attached to it. Unfortunately for the men of 4 Platoon our taskings are so often that we rarely get the opportunity to enjoy these little comforts. Also within PB Attal is a pretty decent array of gym equipment ranging from spinning machines to rowing machines and a vast selection of weights. Operation MASSIVE is definitely going well in this location!
Food is always a touchy subject. There’s a long-standing joke that the Army Chef training course is the hardest course of all. In fairness, there’s only so much that one can do with a 10-man ration pack. They’re much better than they used to be. In particular, Menu “E” with its bags of chicken. Anyone who remembers the old processed cheese (aka cheese possessed) will be glad to hear it’s exactly the same, just in a different tin with a nice picture on the front!
4 Platoon is now well beyond the half way point of our tour and we’re currently in amongst the throes of the R&R cycle. Listening to the tales of the men as they return is almost as good for everybody’s morale as it is for the individual.
The past 4 weeks have seen the Platoon in a number of encounters with insurgents. The engagements have varied from 600m small arms contacts to 200m complex ambushes. In every event the men of 4 have conducted themselves with the utmost courage, discipline and, when required, courageous restraint.
The end of May saw the Platoon as busy as it saw the start of the month. The variety of taskings has failed to decrease. At some stage in June there will be another Afghan National Security Force-led Operation – the key to leaving Afghanistan in a stable position for the future.