Lance Corporal Joshua Crook, of Y Company 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (1RRF), joined the Army in January 2011 and attended the Infantry Training Centre Catterick for the six-month Combat Infantryman Course. He joined 1RRF in September 2011 and since then has completed countless exercises. Joshua attended and passed the Fire Team Commander’s Course in January this year and was promoted in Afghanistan in April.
This is my first operational deployment. Here I am now, hoping to tell you all about it.
I’m sure many of you who are reading this are currently serving in the forces, whether that be out on operations or back with your units in the UK, Germany or Cyprus but I’m also aware that a lot of you are also civilians, looking at joining the army or are in the process already. This weekly blog will be, hopefully, an insight as to what it is I’m doing out here in Afghanistan as a Lance Corporal as part of an infantry battalion and also, a brief look at the bigger picture to give you, back home, a look at what is going on and why in Afghanistan.
The deployment begins
I flew out on the 10th April to Camp Bastion – everyone who comes to Afghanistan on deployment has to attend a week’s RSOI package which is basically a full up-to-the-hour information read-in on everything that is taking place in theatre; from insurgent tactics to main causes of diseases over here. It really is extensive. As well as all those briefs, depending on your unit and what it is you’re out here to do, you then conduct ranges and various training packages within the week to make sure you’re up to scratch on everything you’ve been taught in your pre-deployment training, like Counter IED training for example. It’s useful and for the first time puts into perspective just how good the training is you get back in the UK leading up to your operations. RSOI done, and it’s a long week believe me – not to mention the fact that for me especially, the heat is unreal, even in April. I think the hottest day we had on that week was in the region of 42 degrees, which in full kit – is pretty warm.
MOB Price; Where I am now and likely to be based for the rest of my time out here in Afghanistan. It doesn’t take much to work out why this place gets called MOB Nice by most people either; the accommodation is big, clean and air-conditioned. The place has three large gyms with all the equipment you need and the cookhouse serves better food than camps in the UK!
I’ve been in Price since around the 19th April and this first entry comes in June, so I’ll focus mainly on what’s happened so far. I’m with Company HQ out here, working as a junior NCO in my company’s intelligence cell. What that means, in a nutshell, is that whenever anything happens in Afghanistan that concerns British Forces and us here in Price, I find out about it and then if necessary, become responsible to disseminate that information to the rest of my company so that we are all constantly up to date on what is happening around us and what it means to us. It’s an interesting job, and because of it, I get to go out on 90 per cent of the operations my company are tasked with, whether that’s as a Top Gunner on the vehicles, or one of the blokes in the section when going out on patrol. It’s the best of both worlds!
In the eight weeks or so that we’ve been out here, Y Coy have been tasked quite a few times with various operations. The first being the closure of a CP (check point) not far from Price that had both ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) and British Forces manning it, the idea; that we pull all British troops out of the CP and let the ANSF man it themselves – a great example of how much the ANSF are developing and how much progress they have made and are making! The operation went great, no drama’s at all! First task Y Company; Success!
Since the first, tasks have come through slow and steady; varying from supporting the Engineers with CP builds, to clearing major routes here in Helmand Province. A lot of the time patrol manage is in force, which basically prevents a lot of us from going out on the ground unless it is absolutely necessary, it’s frustrating for us in the infantry as it’s not what we want to hear, but it makes sense. Here in Afghanistan it’s completely different from how it used to be. A different war. We are no longer out to start fights; grenade in hand and bayonets fixed. We’ve been there, done that and it’s now the time to let the ANSF take over: take responsibility for their country and their people; and they’re doing just that.
Of course, there have been teething issues and at times our support is still necessary, but that is the whole point in us being here now – to support the ANSF. However, we are seeing time and time again ANSF not needing our help, not needing our support and it’s all because of the training we have given them and the training they are disseminating down from us to their troops. We are slowly but surely pulling out of Afghanistan and evidence of that is clear all around us. For example, the number of CPs and PBs (patrol bases) that are being closed around Helmand, all of which held British troops.
Well, that pretty much brings us up to now… I’ll be updating this blog weekly or even more frequently than that if I get the chance, then again, not as frequently if I don’t. I’ll do my best to get some sort of system in place where any of you guys reading this that have questions can get them to me and I’ll endeavour to get the answers back to you. There’s a lot of units out here in Price and many others that pass through on a day to day basis so, I’ll make sure there are plenty of different points of view from all different units and cap badges out here in Afghanistan. All feedback is welcome, good or bad – I’m just as new to this as I am Afghanistan so any ideas would be great and feedback much appreciated.
Catch you next week,