Corporal Georgina Coupe is the video camerawoman for the British Army’s Combat Camera Team (CCT) based in Afghanistan throughout summer 2012 as part of 12th Mechanized Brigade.
Following on from my last blog, early one morning last week we flew into Shawqat. It’s my favourite time to fly, as the sun is just coming up and I love watching the contrasting miles of desert as it turns into the lush ‘greenzone’ and the more inhabited area of Nad Ali District. The helicopter trips are definitely my favourite part of being out here and it always amazes me that people sleep on them!
The plan for the couple of the days we intended to stay was to cover a joint Afghan Police and Afghan National Army led clearance area of the area. We were hosted by the Advisory Group of the‘Vikings’ the majority of whom we had met over Op Shafuq.
We headed out in a vehicle move with Major Bev Allen, of 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment whose primary role in Theatre is to advise and assist the colonel of the Afghan National Army (ANA) Kandak. Over the next couple of days we visited the villages and checkpoints and filmed the police and army commanders as they carried out the operation.
A lot of the time when out on patrol the local children like to be given sweets and chocolate but the tables were turned this time as the youngsters of the village ran over to us and gave us cans of cold pop, which were much appreciated as the temperatures out here at the moment are regularly hitting the 40s.
As flight programmes moved around, our plans changed, which although can be frustrating its just part of life here. This meant that we stayed a few days longer but also gave us chance to head out with Corporal Chris Milliken who was training ANA soldiers as Combat Medics and is about half way through the training programme.
Our trip coincided with one of the many Queen’s Jubilee celebrations which have been taking place across the country. This particular party had quite a bit of entertainment laid on with egg and spoon races, apple bobbing and tug of war competitions. There was also quite a variety of food on offer which would have been rude not to have indulged in!
An amazing visit
On our visit we were all made really welcome by the advisors there and during some downtime there I was introduced to the joys of digital scrabble and a couple of other apps by Sergeant Mercer which brought out my competitive streak with a vengeance, I WILL win the next bout Si! Whilst we were there, there was also a pretty amazing electrical storm which sent Andy and I running outside for the cameras, it lasted for quite a while so gave us plenty of chance to get ‘the shot’!
Since we got back to Bastion we’ve had a busy few days with various visitors including the guys from Soldier Magazine as well as the photographer from Herrick 14, Ali Baskerville so it’s been good catching up with them.
On a more sombre note Andy and I have both been photographing the vigil ceremonies of the three soldiers, lost over the last couple of weeks. It’s always a difficult job, for everybody involved and our thoughts are with the families at this time
At the moment we’re in the middle of filming some new kit out in Theatre and some explosive training with the Afghan Army. Alongside a couple more operations coming up it looks like there will be quite a lot going on to keep us occupied so will keep you all updated when I can.