Taking the rough with the smooth

The combat camera team for Operation HERRICK 12

The combat camera team for Operation HERRICK 12

Captain Jo Timmerman is the officer commanding the Combat Camera Team for Operation HERRICK 12. With Sergeant Tom Robinson on camera, and Corporal Barry Lloyd taking stills the three travel together throughout Afghanistan collecting multi-media stories about the British forces for distribution to all media outlets. Here she writes about the challenges of life as a roving news team.

What a few weeks for the CCT! We’ve been doing everything from covering a push south into Taliban territory to Beckham mania.

The team spent nearly a month down in Combined Force (CF) Nad-e-Ali with the 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, the Royal Dragoon Guards, and the Queens Royal Lancers. We also covered a visit from the new British ambassador and a tractor distribution story.

The push south was pretty arduous with temperatures reaching 46 degrees centigrade. With all of us, and the troops, in full kit plus backpacks, and carrying a minimum of 6 litres of water each, the work rate was slow. The infantry and cavalry units were providing flanking protection whilst the counter IED teams cleared three routes. As expected, pushing the forward line of enemy troops meant we were soon taking fire. We got to meet up with Ammunition Technician Officer Captain Ciaron Dyer again so it was good to talk to his bomb disposal team and see what how they had been getting on.

In true CCT style, the theme of river crossings continued, with me and several others properly going swimming. Our thanks go to the boys of the 1 LANCS All Arms Search Team for helping us keep the camera kit dry!

Back into Bastion and Beckham mania had broken out. Becks is such a down-to-earth guy with the patience of a saint. He was so good, meeting and talking with the troops, and was I think he was humbled by the work of the forces. We followed his 48-hour visit from start to finish and were literally run off our feet trying to process and distribute all the material (of course, when you need IT to work it fails in style). That said we got photos in all the Sunday papers which was a great morale boost for everyone. I also got to interview him, which will likely be one of the high points of my career. Yes, my friends back home were jealous. War correspondent to showbiz reporter in one easy step.

As a news team, the CCT can produce video rushes and interviews for broadcasters, packaged videos for the web, written copy, stills photography, podcasts, and radio interviews, as well as doing live and pre-recorded interviews from the field. The team’s stories and material are distributed directly to the media, or through the MOD’s image site, http://www.defencenewsimagery.mod.uk.

World Cup rivalry kicks off in Lashkar Gah

Captain Stuart Thomas, , the Main Troop Commander of 204 Signal Squadron, based in Lashkar Gah for his six-month tour on Operation HERRICK 12, details his soldiers’ focus on elections and football…

We manage to keep reasonably up to date with events back home and have just heard that there may be a volcano due to erupt in Iceland, and Michael Jackson may be ill!

Whilst the newspapers that we get are infrequent, we do get the headlines and big stories from Sky News which is constantly on in the HQ, although it’s the local news stories that I miss.

Lately it has been all about the election, and discussing the hung parliament. Much like the Lord of the Rings saga, they kept us waiting and waiting.  If I remember correctly the elves and dwarves ended up working together after being in opposition for so long, so maybe there are a couple of parallels although I am not sure where the ork army fit into all of this.

We have had a couple of birthdays recently, of particular note Signaller Faye Tanner has turned 21 and can now be officially thought of as an adult!  The Troop are now two months into the tour and we have started sending soldiers back to the UK on R&R for a well deserved break.

With the football season over it is time to start talking about metatarsals, and heaping unrealistic expectation on the English football team.  Friendly rivalry has already started with the Americans in the headquarters, and hopefully we can silence them (along with the Scottish) by winning the opening game of the World Cup, before limping out at the knockout stages to the Germans on penalties no doubt.