Major Simon Doyle is the Officer Commanding C Company of 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1 PWRR) known as the Tigers. Simon has responsibility for Area of Operations Centre-South, as a part of Combined Force Nad e-Ali, headed by 3 SCOTS.
The company are now over two months into Operation Herrick 15 and getting fully to grips with life here in Nad-e Ali District with plenty going on across the AO in the last few weeks. We have said goodbye to the last of the Op Herrick 14 contingent when our Intelligence Corps JNCO flew home to his family and we have welcomed in LCpl K-K and Capt Beechey to the Company to bring us fully up to strength. As well as routine joint patrolling to ensure security for the local population we have experienced the richness of the annual Eid al Udha celebrations.
Magnificently groomed beards!
Eid ul-Adha celebrates the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. It is the biggest festival in the Muslim calendar and is traditionally a time of year that locals spend with their family. Eid finished on the 9th of November this year, however we chose to hold a feast here in PB Samsor slightly later as most of the Wakils (local elders and dignitaries) were committed over the Eid period celebrating with their family. The meal was a warm, friendly affair which we judge to have been a great success at bringing the key leaders together whilst publically demonstrating ISAF and ANSF unity and cooperation. The Wakils all turned up in good spirits including Haji Barakzai who is the District Community Council Chairman for Nad-e-Ali District and several other notable tribal elders from our area, all resplendent in Dish-Dashes, Turbans and magnificently groomed beards! The new ANCOP (Afghan National Civil Order police) commander was also able to attend and the event served as a good opportunity for him to meet the local elders and build relationships.
The Eid meal was cooked by the ANA (Afghan National Army) Tolay based at PB SAMSOR and was an example of a traditional Afghan feast of rice, lamb, chicken and spices washed down with the well-known traditional drink of Pepsi! During the meal Haji Barakzai had the opportunity to address his Wakils and the elders and we were able to thank all the elders for their hard work and the sacrifice of the Afghan community over the past few years as they have supported the establishment of security despite the risks from the insurgency. We emphasised that the security now seen in southern Nad-e-Ali is in no small part down to the hard work and attitude of all the elders and their community.
Through them and with the help of ISAF and ANSF the area now has schools, shops and a small amount of industry. It stands out as a success story in Helmand province and will hopefully transition to Afghan lead in the near future.
As well as the Eid feast the company have also been involved with the ANCOP and the community repainting a Mosque in the village of Haji Noor Mahmad Nigeran Kalay. The day was a success from the start with ANCOP actively taking the lead and Cpl Baldwin and his men in the background providing security. The local people were more than happy to take part in the community project which is the first of its kind in C Company’s AO. The success of the day was largely down to the commitment of the ANSF and the local’s willingness to participate.
This is a sign of how far Nad-e-Ali has come in a short period of time. Only eight months ago the area was contested space with ISAF actively clearing the area and engaging enemy forces in regular gunfights. Now, locals are taking responsibility for their own development and actively engaging with ANSF. The day finished with ANCOP handing out Eid gifts to the poorer local nationals including warm clothing and boots for the children and packs of soap, toothpaste and other products to the families. This again helps to paint ANSF in a positive light and was very well received by locals in the area.
Everyone at home will be happy that R&R has started in earnest with the first of our soldiers now enjoying well deserved time at home with their families. We are also expecting to hear good news from LBdr Pitcher and Pte Allen who are at home and due to become Fathers at any moment! Whilst staying on the subject of children we have received a number of parcels from schools containing kind, handwritten messages to the troops. These letters and cards have been distributed to the soldiers in the company who should be writing thank you letters soon!
Earl Grey for the OC
It keeps getting a little colder every night at the moment although we are still enjoying warm days with sunny afternoons for last-minute sunbathing or gratuitous top-off moments if you are LCpl Twyford or Pte Rickson. We had one scare recently when there was rain overnight but so far our efforts at winterising the camps seem to be paying off. The amount of tea being consumed is climbing exponentially as the temperature drops though so please keep sending the tea-bags through – Earl Grey for the OC, Extra-Extra Strong for Capt Syfret and effeminate Peppermint for 2Lt Laybourne….!
We recently found ourselves in the unusual position of supplying treats and goodies to our American allies over here from the US Marine Corps. Usually the US have all of the niceties of life and seem to support us wherever we go in the world, however our neighbours here are in an austere environment so we have been giving them lots of our rations, treats, magazines and drinks for which they are very grateful. You may find that a lot of the Company have USMC souvenirs as a result when we get home!