Corporal Paul Birkett is a Communications Systems Operator (CS Op) currently stationed with 1st United Kingdom Armoured Division Headquarters and Signal Regiment (1 (UK) ADSR) based in Herford, Germany. He recently deployed on Op HERRICK 15 where he is employed as Communications Centre (COMMCEN) Operator/Commcen IC.
He is responsible for transmitting, receiving and distributing messages within Main Operating Base (MOB) Lashkar Gah. Secondary duties include providing support via telephone to outstations around the area and monitoring the communications systems.
The saying “it never rains but it pours” certainly rings true in Afghanistan. We have entered the New Year with low temperatures, plenty of rain and spectacular lightning displays.
During one of my guard duties it rained so hard that miniature swimming pools were forming all around me. Within an hour the guard-room flooded with around one ft of water, with nowhere for it to drain. Many other parts of the MOB were also affected. We are now waiting for the apparent rainy season to end and for the sun to make an appearance. Hopefully the sun will stay out long enough to enable us to start our panic tanning before we return to the UK.
Following the numerous downpours the Troop has been busy with the general clean-up and rectifying any communication issues that had been affected by the weather. One of the HQs has been flooded and personnel were trying to disperse the water with paper cups and bowls. Due to the rain a number of the telephones within our location had stopped working – this important task fell to the Installation Technicians (Cpl Stewart and Sig Mclean) to rectify.
In January we have been out to the PBs in order to carry important maintenance on the satellite ground terminals. This task proved invaluable at PB Nahidullah where a wasp nest was found on one of the dishes and successfully removed. I have also found the time to take members of 200 Signal Squadron, also based within MOB, through some satellite communication training – this will enable crossing training, whilst also ensuring they have an understanding of the basic principles of satellite communications.
Within the last couple of days SSgt Paul Smith has been feeling a little unwell with the so-called ‘Man Flu’. It was first noticed when he was sat in his little corner with nothing much to say and consuming his usual 20 cups of coffee (normally within the first hour of work). However, it only took him 24 hrs to recover. Just before the evening brief he started feeling a much better and the usual good-spirited and lighthearted banter started again.
The darts competition that Lt Thorpe had organised has now come to a close with LCpl Chris Simpson picking up the winnings, which is no surprise to anyone as he seems to spend most of his spare time at the dart board.
The darts competition raised over $150 for the Army Benevolent Fund.