Journal: Chuck Spinney Flags Words from the front line: the bloody truth of Helmand – by a combat soldier

04 Inter-State Conflict, 08 Wild Cards, 10 Security, Military
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The past eight weeks have been the army’s worst time in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion eight years ago. Here, in his brutally frank diaries of life on the front line, a serving soldier records the bitter toll of death, and his anger and frustration at the lack of military and political support Mark Townsend The Observer, Sunday 23 August 2009.

EXTRACTS as Highlighted by Chuck Spinney:

We need better weapons. Every one of the SA80s stopped firing after one round (weapons were cleaned and oiled just as we were trained) but these weapons are a load of shit.

The chiefs should be pressing for a better weapons system. And why don’t the army have more sniffer dogs? Would be finding IEDs [improvised explosive devices] a lot easier with a furry friend running about and a lot more lives would be saved. Since I’ve been here, haven’t seen one dog. Told might have to go back to Camp Bastion because of injury.

. . . . . . .

We are so spread out and overstretched on the ground and it means the Taliban are taking the piss. They can lay these IEDs at fucking will. We are not there at the moment to put out ops or sniper over-watch and the Taliban know it.

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26 July

The mates of A have turned up for the repatriation of their friend. It’s sad that it is for somebody so young. Another five soldiers are being repatriated as well. We have spent all that money on a new bomb-proofish vehicle but you’ve still got four blokes with metal detectors out at the front of it and one commanding them. Sometimes I just don’t get it. We need to invest in better bomb detection equipment and get more dogs out here. Surely there is something that we can use to trigger bombs off early?

Got told that a checkpoint spotted two males lying prone and digging on the track where we keep getting hit. Then with all the fussing about we only fired warning shots at them. Another wasted opportunity. The fact is we have Taliban conducting patrols 800m away from our checkpoint and they are not getting touched. Why are we not smashing these patrols to pieces? Why are snipers not being used to counter the threat? It makes me fucking mad.

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1 August

Told that E and F were on the helicopter that had just flown in. Their vehicle had been hit by a 40kg IED. Went to the hospital to see them. E had a bad arm and F had his vertebrae done in and will be out for eight months. They were in a Mastiff, that’s why they survived. They were both very lucky. The Mastiffs are worth their weight in gold.