Signaller Tonkinson is a Communications Logistic Specialist (CLS) currently stationed with 1st United Kingdom Armoured Division Headquarters and Signal Regiment (1 (UK) ADSR) based in Herford, Germany. She is deployed on Op HERRICK 15 where she is employed as both a driver and crewman as part of Souter Force Protection Transport Company (SFPTC), stationed at Camp Souter in Kabul.
It’s been a good week in comparison with last week; the new CO arrived so we have spent a lot of time driving him around the city showing him the various locations and the area in general. There were some weird sights seen whilst driving around, a cyclist with a bull’s head tied to the back of his push bike and a tuck tuck (a three wheeled motorbike crossed with a van) with some sheep on the back doing about 50mph. I have never seen 50mph sheep before! There has also been quite a lot of routine work to do on the vehicles, the lads in the LAD have started their R&R and there’s been extra work required due to the wintery weather conditions.
Let’s get on with it!
Signaller Eltringham finally got off the ground for his R&R only a few days late but at least he got there. He was closely followed by Sgt Locking and the OC Major Veron, who got on the first available flight, going slightly early just in case! Typical, the seniors escape for R&R just when things turned nasty within our area! The Americans made a huge mistake of burning the Koran, an unforgivable act in Afghanistan. Unfortunately our new MTP uniform is the same colour as the American Army. In the past we have been mistaken for the Americans while on foot patrol. As you may have seen on the TV the Afghan population reacted with riot’s around Kabul City, attacking American camps in protest at what they had done.
Here at Camp Souter the threat level went through the roof, extra guard posts were stationed and extra security at the front gates as the protesters moved from camp to camp around the city. This was the real deal! Our multiple was on Quick Reaction Force (QRF) constantly at 15 minutes notice to move, MAXIMUM! As the protests escalated I was temporality stationed on an extra guard post until re-enforcements arrived. The re-enforcements came in the form of anyone on camp who wasn’t on mission-critical duty. Basically anyone resting was to arm themselves and be prepared for tasking, everyone was up and ready.
I stood on guard listening to the crowds of Afghan’s chanting in the distance, firing their weapons to intimidate us and I observed the fires being started which created black smoke attempting to prevent the security cameras from seeing what was going on. I could then hear the crowds getting closer, heading our way. It came over the radio that the crowds where moving towards the end of the road where our camp is based. At this point I was replaced and ordered to return to my multiple who were waiting at the front gates armed and with riot gear and with a dog handler at the ready with an attack dog.
We stood awaiting the order to move out, adrenalin running, along with a lot of other things running though my body and into my pants, double checking everything while I had chance. Did I have everything? Is my weapon prepared properly? Going over in my head the different scenarios and what could happen, what would I do in response? In the distance we could hear the crowds getting closer. Thinking about it wasn’t a good idea, I knew I had everything; I knew my weapon was in order, ‘stop thinking about it and let’s just get on with it’! Then we noticed the crowds’ chanting was getting further away, the gun fire had stopped as if someone had flicked a switch
The order came to stand down. It took a while for everyone to wind down, we were still on QRF until the next evening when we would change over to guard. Over the next few hours the attack alarm went off a few times. Whenever it went off we rushed around to prepare to go out to the gates only to find it was a false alarm. Over the course of the next few days everyone was on edge waiting for something to happen, luckily there has been no trouble at Camp Souter yet.