Nothing has changed apart from me

Signaller Mike Leonidas

Signaller Mike Leonidas

Signaller Mike Leonidas is a Communications Systems Operator (CS Op) currently stationed with 20 Armoured Brigade HQ and Signal Squadron (200), based in Sennelager, Germany.

He is deployed on Op HERRICK 15 where he is employed as Rear Link Detachment (RLD) Signaller, responsible for providing communications from a small Patrol Base in Northern Nad-E Ali District.  Sig Leonidas is working with A Company Estonian Ops Team.

I’ve just arrived back in theatre after 14 days of Rest and Recuperation (R&R) leave back in the UK.  I had an amazing two weeks off with some great weather, and it was great to see some smiling faces back in the UK.  Really nothing has changed apart from me I think. During my time off I caught up with family and friends and found the time to do some travelling around Europe.  Overall though it was just great to wake up in the morning and have nothing to do. 

It has been along time since my last Blog and a lot has happened.  After R&R I came back to find the PB in a mad rush.  Despite my time in the PB, after a short break I felt like the new kid again.  I had quite a hard week with a lot happening, including an injury to one of my colleagues in the PB.  A great deal of thanks to my old Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) for putting me on my Team Medic’s course a while back.  I was amazed how much my medical training helped me and how instinctive it was.  I’ll be pushing to learn more when I get back to Germany and to keep my skills up. It was a great reminder that you will never know when you will have to put your skills into practise. 

Sig Leonidas and Sgt Toode of the Estonian Army.

Sig Leonidas and Sgt Toode of the Estonian Army.

Missed the freedom

Geographically, Afghanistan and the UK aren’t really that far apart.  But how different is this place? Standing in the Sangers on guard duty sometimes I really do wonder how they get on with everyday life in a warzone.  I spend a lot of time speaking to an Afghan interpreter, he is my age but conflict is all he has known.  He wishes peace for his country, but agrees that force is sometimes needed.

I’ve been enjoying spending some more time with my new Estonian camp mates and it’s a nice feeling to know I’m leaving before them! However, before I go though, I need to teach them how to tell the time properly, how is 1330 ‘half two’?! I hope they don’t forget me and welcome me back to Estonia when they are back from their tour. 

Childlike fascination

Camp-life is basic as always but there are a few improvements.  We now have warm showers at certain points during the day – which is nice.  I think the biggest shock to the system has been the lack of freedom here.  In a PB like this one, you are confined to a patch of land just a few hundred metres squared and even essentials have to be sent to you.  I’ve really missed the freedom of getting everyday items when I want them, rather than waiting for a parcel to arrive every few weeks. 

A friend of mine at the PB recently gave one of the Afghans an old laptop.  He opened up the laptop, something we would take for granted, with an almost childlike fascination.  It was quite a special moment to see someone quite unused to gifts being given something that he really valued. 

Settling back into PB life wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  Despite this, the countdown to the end of tour is starting and I can’t wait until the end of March and our journey back to Germany.