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THE BEAR NECESSITIES

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Inside this issue:
Welcome 7 Hq & Sp Sqn Life in Camp Bastion Res Spec World CSC AGC (SPS) - Final tour 1st AES Exploits in the North Tour so far Illustrious 1 Troop 4 AES Op QALB 8 Shura upgrade PB closure 73 AES PB & OP closure A month in 1 Troop Backscatter An average week Changing PB1 Almost Christmas OP 11 upgrade Tactical Advisory Team Halloween Final points Glossary 2 2 2 4 5 6 7 7 8 9 10 10 11 12 13 13 14 15 15 16 17 17 18 Over the last few weeks I have accrued quite a few flying hours on Merlin and Chinook helicopters and had the pleasure of visiting most of our troops in the bases that they are operating from within Helmand Province. During these visits the commanders of these bases always make a point to the Commanding Officer and myself of how much value the soldiers and officers of 21 Engineer Regiment are adding across a wide spectrum of tasks and capabilities. It is clear how well thought of they are and how much of an asset they have become. The Talisman Route Proving and Clearing Squadron are also in demand and they have executed some very successful missions to date and continue to do so across the whole Task Force Helmand Area of Operations ensuring that routes are clear of IEDs so others can manoeuvre more safely. The HQ Squadron in Camp Bastion are providing excellent support to all sub units ensuring the vital logistics and equipment required for tasks are ready to be deployed forward. The Escort Multiple are proving to be a very valuable asset and it is great to see how well they are performing, receiving plaudits from senior officers. Mail and parcels arrive as and when. It may take one week or two for mail to arrive and it is not unknown to receive mail that has been posted from the UK a week apart on the same day. There are various organisations and individuals who very regularly send parcels containing all sorts from toiletries to sweets and goodies. I collect them and then take them on the helicopter with me on visits and distribute them to our people in the forward bases. I feel a little like Santa Claus arriving with my sack of presents but I am confident the parcels sent from the UK are very much appreciated; the positive effect of receiving mail and parcels should not be underestimated.

Regimental Sergeant Majors Foreword


(WO1 PT Gallimore)

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Welcome
Welcome to the second Edition of the Bear Necessities, the monthly Newsletter from 21 Engineer Regiment and 42 Field Squadron (28 Engineer Regiment). While the Regiment is deployed the Newsletter will give you the news from all over Helmand province to tell you what your husband, wife, brother, sister, son or daughter is up to. The Bear Necessities will be published around the first of each month. If its late, bear with us as IT out here is unreliable. As ever, if there is anything in particular you think should be included in the newsletter let the Welfare Office know and we will see what we can do. Make sure you like our Facebook page. There will also be a section called Ask the Sapper. If there are questions that you have about the www.facebook.com/21engineerregiment tour, pass them to the Welfare Office and if we can answer them you will see the answers in the next edition. Lastly, have a very Merry Christmas from all within the deployed element of the Regiment, our thoughts and best wishes will be with all of our friends and families during the festive period.

FACEBOOK

7HQ & SP SQN Life in Camp Bastion - LCpl Blackburn


I have deployed before to Afghanistan (in 2010 with 170 Engineer Group) and Iraq (in 2003 with 49 Sqn Explosive Ordnance Detachment). I joined to 21 Engineers in June this year on a Wednesday, by the time Friday came that week I was in Jordan on a seven week exercise prior to coming on operation this September. On this deployment I am at Camp Bastion working with 7 Sqn in their Resources Department. So let me tell you about my home for the next 6 months, predominantly Camp Bastion: This place, though, is not some other world, but Afghanistan. And the surroundings are not beautiful or charismatic. It is Camp Bastion: a brutal, functional, military city built from nothing in the desert, from which the UK has orchestrated its conflict against the Taliban for the past ten years. There is probably no place like it on earth. It has grown so much that the perimeter wall is now almost 40km long making it roughly the size of Reading; and its airport is busier than any other in the UK, apart from Gatwick and Heathrow. Heres a little bit of history about Camp Bastion: Built in early 2006, by 39 Engineer Regiment, the camp is situated in a remote desert area, far from population centers. It was 10 years ago when the British started looking for a safe place to fly supplies for their troops who were to be sent to the southern province of Helmand. The British didn't want to set up camp too close to any fighting, and they wanted somewhere flat, to build a landing strip for aircraft. They chose a place in the plains of north-west Helmand, where the Soviets had once had a small base and dug a trench. The British decided to call the new camp Bastion a reference to the huge earth-filled bags that have been used to Page 2

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define its boundaries. The bomb-proof bags are made by a UK company called Hesco Bastion, which was set up by a British inventor, Jimi Heselden. Mr. Heselden sadly died last year after making a fortune selling his invention to the British military. Thousands of the bags now line the roads around this camp, and almost every other road in the country. The other ubiquitous building block of the city is the ISO freight container, the sort you see on lorries or the decks of ships at ports around the world. There are now 10,000 ISO containers at Bastion, almost all of them brought in by road through Pakistan, after being shipped from Europe or America to Karachi. By some estimates, it would take a decade to remove them all from Helmand, many of them are likely to stay put. 7 Sqn are now tasked with drawing this number of ISOs down as part of the objectives of the transition of security to the Afghan Government. Every soldier from the Top Dog to the Sprog Sapper gets hands on, no matter the time of day to ensure the work is completed on time. So what is Camp Bastion like to live in you may wonder? The base never sleeps, as aircraft fly overhead through the day and night, vehicles rumble by and soldiers practice their shooting accuracy on the ranges. There aren't any pavements at Bastion, or street lights, so walking around at night can be perilous without a torch. The airport is busy day and night. It dealt with 2,980,000 pieces of freight in June alone, including 73,000 pallets of mail. With little else to do with spare time, troops are often seen doing "fizz", or physical exercise - the gyms are busy daily from 5am. There are no weekends at Camp Bastion. As the sun gets lower in the sky, soldiers get together for games of volleyball or football, which almost always have an air of competitive tension. There isn't much in the way of nightlife but there is a Pizza Hut and KFC takeaway restaurant that trades from inside a converted ISO. Customers can sit outside on pub-style benches. There is also a dry bar next door called Heroes, which has giant TV screens showing news channels from the UK. For thousands of staff here, their lives revolve around huge air-conditioned gymnasiums. Bodybuilding (Op Massive) has become a near obsession for many of the soldiers who live on site, who have little else to do once they have finished work. One of the only reminders of where we are in the world is the sound of the Islamic call to prayer broadcast over an Afghan radio. Even officers have fewer privileges than at other bases in the UK and around the world. There is no officers' mess, no superior accommodation and soldiers are not required to salute commissioned officers as they walk past here. The Camp just grows with every day that passes to the stage now it become so big that it has eight incinerators and a burn pit to get rid of the rubbish. The camp also has its own bus service, Page 3

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firestation and police force. There are on-site laws and regulations too. One of them is the speed limit 24kph (15mph). It is enforced by officers with speed cameras, who can leap out from behind containers, or from inside ditches, to catch anyone flouting the rules. Anyone caught speeding more than three times is banned from driving on the base. Though the limit is quite low, many of the military vehicles are so big, and the dust they churn up so blinding, that it is dangerous for them to be going any faster. Rather than bringing in water supplies from elsewhere, the British set up a water-bottling plant on site, drawing the water from the two existing boreholes. The plastic bottles are made at the plant, which provides one million litres a week for Bastion, as well as many of the other smaller bases and checkpoints across the province. One of the most surreal sights in the city is its Afghan village, a replica built by the British. It even has a small number of local residents who tend to a bread oven, riding motorbikes and selling food at a market. It is supposed to give the soldiers a better feel for what to expect when they go on patrol. There is also a training area designed to help them identify the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that have been used to such deadly effect by insurgents. There are tell-tale clues the soldiers need to learn; they can be taught about the different techniques used by the insurgents for planting IEDs, and how the villagers might be trying to warn them of their whereabouts. If an Afghan has stopped using a bridge to cross a stream or a river, there is often a reason. The medical facilities at Camp Bastion rely on a taskforce of helicopters, in the past, patients were brought into the trauma unit at Bastion before major surgery could begin. Now, consultants fly out in specially adapted Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters to any emergency, so they can start work on the injured as soon as they set eyes on them, which is proven to save lives. Above all else, though, the camp is a military base. The US Marines, and the Afghan security forces, have their own areas now but the core of the base remains and is run by the British. The Afghans are starting to get themselves into a position to support their own troops even though they cannot leap up to our level of technology overnight, the transition to Afghan led security is clearly evident.

Life of a non-specialist in a resources specialist (res spec) worldby Geordie Boy Hunter
(To be read in a Big Brother Geordie announcers voice) Day 1: In Res Spec world Geordie Hunter took his big shiny truck on its first trip to the Final Rendezvous Point (FRV) - he looked so happy. He was tasked to collect stores for Res World. Lots of ISO containers full of Hesco and Timber. Day 2: In Res Spec world Geordie Hunter loaded his truck with rubbish to take to the Burns Pit. He said this is by far the best, most enjoyable job he has ever done in his military career. As a Non-Spec in a Res Spec world he could do this for the rest of his life. Day 3: In Res Spec world Geordie Hunter feels so low todaythere are no trips to the FRV or Burns Pit. He has spent his day looking on the KBR (local contractors) website to see if there is any job going as the Burns Pit Manager. More disappointment, no jobs at the moment. He is looking forward to tomorrow. Day 63: In Res Spec world Page 4

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Geordie Hunter is the happiest little bunny in the Res Spec Kingdom, 63 days done 140 days to push. He will be so unhappy at the end this tour to hand over his truck, no more FRV trips or Burns Pits Runs what will he do? How will he cope.....?

The Construction Supervision Cell (CSC) Spr Appanah

Spr Hunter with his big truck

The last few weeks the CSC department has had enough on their plate as the team was dealing with several Statements of Requirement (SORs) for different jobs throughout the Engineer Regiment, which needed amendments and new drawings which had to be produced. SSgt Rai has been designing the force protection upgrades for Patrol Base (PB) 1 and PB Hayatullah. In addition SSgt Mukungunugwa (Muks) was occupied in designing upgrades for the kitchen waste water in Forward Operating Base (FOB) Oullette. On the other hand, SSgt Wright was out on the ground in PB4 and FOB Oullette last week carrying out road reconnaissance. He got back on Sunday, early morning, and since then he has been in the office hustling about. We believe too much Red Bull, Monster energy drinks and Pepsi are on the go. As for LCpl Howard he has been overloaded with too many SORs. He has been involved in drawing up a gym extension, 25 metre weapon range, the gate for FOB Shawqat and the kitchen roof in Check Point (CP) Pan Kalay. Meanwhile, the rest of the department were drawn away in several tasks respectively. Last Friday the CSC team suffered another loss in the football competition. The team was disappointed with two losses in a row. Looking into it, the team has decided to make a few changes and come up with new tactics and formation for the next game. SSgt Wright will be here on Saturday for his first game with the team and we believe our hustler could save us from another loss. A Halloween Party was held a few weeks ago for the squadron. It was well set up and ran by the Squadron HQ (SHQ). I am delighted to say that the team from CSC came third despite 50% of the department missing on various tasks. On 28 October at midnight there was another 5km run intended to raise awareness for Combat Stress known as the Pedro and was organised by the American Special Forces. SSgt Rai (Clerk of Works) and I (Spr Appanah- Surveyor) flew out to an undisclosed CP at the beginning of the November to carry out a foot bridge reconnaissance, in order to help the process of constructing a new bridge for ISAF and Afghan personnel to be used. Over the duration of the task we were based in FOB Ouellette where the 9 Troop, 73 Sqn boys are based. As for me, I got the chance to catch up with the boys from my original troop which is always good to be able to share your own views on different experiences. To sum up, the CSC department has been very occupied with several ongoing SORs. In addition SSgt Muks has had to put in a few hours at the DEW (Deployable Engineer Workshop) office everyday as Sgt Smith is currently on his R&R. The CSC department just cant wait to have all their boys back as it used to be at the beginning. The football league is now over and it will be replaced by a volley ball league instead with the same interdepartmental teams.

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Attached ArmsAdjutant Generals Corps Staff and Personnel Support Branch


Final Tour of DutySgt Eckersley
Little did I realise back in Oct 88 having signed on in the Army for 3 years that 24 years later, I would still be serving and on my last operational tour in Afghanistan. On the 9 Sep 12 we set out from Ripon to Teesside Airport to fly out to Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 17. After a late night flight we stopped over for 24 hrs before flying onto Bastion due to technical issues with the aircraft. Was this the shape of things to come? Temperatures were high in Afghanistan and we were glad that the journey was over. We were escorted to our accommodation and to my amazement I had a real bed! I know that I am the second eldest in the Squadron but this was beyond my wildest dreams (as you get older you appreciate these things more). It was 3 days later after my arrival in Bastion that the Battle of Bastion took place and I soon realised that it wasnt Prince Harry the Taliban was after, it was me. I had put great thought into this and assumed that it was a government plot for me not to collect my pension. I watched with my Squadron as the Apache helicopter gunships rained down tracer bullets beyond the fence line. Later a few of us were stood near the welfare area and there came a loud thud from near the notice board. We looked down and there it was, a 7.62mm round spinning at speed on the ground (obviously its velocity greatly reduced). A bizarre event at which we thought we should take cover and the huddle of people quickly scattered. No doubt this would be a talking point for many people in years to come. Well, what have I been doing since I started work here in Bastion. I am currently the cashier for 3 Squadrons and cash cheques for personnel to get dollars. Amongst my other tasks I am the postman (the bringer of morale) and Chief Clerk. Its amazing how popular you are when you have money and mail. There have also been very busy periods when you are on Squadron Orderly Officer and you also have to fit all your normal work in. It was on one of these duties that I eventually managed to practice my skills that I had learned on my Quad Bike course and also escape camp for a wellSgt Eckersley providing money to earned change of scenery, albeit a different LCpl Charman camp within Camp Bastion. The journey to King of the roadSgt the ammo compound was uneventful apart Eckersley from Cpl Griff Griffiths throwing up dust from behind his own quad bike leaving me eating dirt and looking like I had been wandering the Sahara desert for the past decade. It was on the return leg and I was following Cpl Griffiths that I had noticed a distinct lack of power from the quad. It was bad enough that we were only allowed to go 24kmph but to lose power at this speed was unthinkable, especially being a motorbike owner. The engine came to a shuddering halt and I was left stranded on the road with Cpl Griffiths disappearing into the distance and my bottom lip was firmly out. No-one had mentioned that there had been a battery terminal problem and that is why the quad had given up the ghost. Luckily Cpl Griffiths had noticed that he had lost his tail end Charlie and he returned to explain he was aware of the fault. Well there have been several talking points from the tour so far and I am sure there will be more to come. Despite all of the ups and down that I have experienced in the Army I am sure that I will look back in years to come and say I remember when.

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1st Armoured Engineer Squadron


Exploits in the North - Lt Waite, 11 TALISMAN Tp Comd
Recently, 11 Troop deployed to the North of our Area of Operations, to provide route clearance support to the Scots Guards. The mission was to ensure a safe passage of movement for our and Afghan troops along a route to bases that had become isolated and needed to be stripped of infrastructure and removed. I deployed forward 2 days ahead of the troop by hitching a ride north with the Scots Guards in one of their Mastiffs. This made me aware of the dangers that other units are exposed to when they move without Engineer support, thus reinforcing my confidence in the troop and the ability of Sappers. On my arrival, I immediately got involved with the planning process and received my orders from the Officer Commanding the operation. He made it clear that time was of the essence and that the route had to be opened in a single day. The next day I conSpr Graham ducted a reconnaissance of the area that we had to ensure safe movement on. Whilst I was conducting the reconnaissance of the ground Sgt Dalby and the search Team commanders were conducting the detailed search planning back in Bastion. They informed me that the route was over 1km long and, due to the level of threat and the complexity of the task, we would have to adapt our tactics so as to speed up the process whilst staying safe. The troop then deployed as a whole to meet me at the Scots Guards base in the north and the next day we moved out onto task. We travelled down the safe route until we were parallel with the isolated bases. From here we began our safety checks. To start with, there was no sight of any insurgents but as we began to move into the ground that could give them an advantage, we noticed suspicious males, at a distance, paying a lot of attention to our activities. Its a very strange feeling to be that close to individuals that are probably the insurgent and they could be gathering information for a possible attack. Thankfully we had an interpreter with us who was able to get the Afghan police to arrest them. This allowed the Afghans to take control of their own security and allowed us to crack on with the task in hand. The Afghan police dealt with them very robustly. We then began the main part of our route safety search. The Sappers on the search team worked tremendously hard and this was reinforced by the technical skills of the individuals operating the other equipment. As we moved down the route it became evident the insurgent had made the decision to remove improvised explosive devices (IEDs) ahead of us. This would have been based on the fact that we were actively searching, so instead of letting us find the explosives they saved them to use more effectively another day. We finished our search by the end of the day and the route to the bases was open. This meant that they were no longer isolated and could therefore be stripped out. Over the following days the insurgent reseeded the route with IEDs. We were then tasked to go and remove them and open a new route. Whilst conducting this task we found a couple devices which we dealt with, the first being found by LCpl Dryden - not only was this the first find for the troop it was also the first find for the Sqn. Overall the operation was a massive success and as a troop we were able to prove our abilities beyond doubt. This really reinforced the confidence the sappers had in their skills and the ability of the equipment. Afterwards it seemed like all the members of the troop seemed to be walking that little bit higher. Page 7

LCpl Dryden

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My tour so far - Spr Rafferty, 10 TALISMAN Tp
As with most things in the Army my journey was not a simple or easy one. Firstly by coach and then by plane, then followed by many delays where I had the pleasure of sleeping on the floors of airport departure lounges. I finally arrived at Camp Bastion in the darkness of the early morning where we were processed quickly and then loaded straight away onto the arrivals procedure where I enjoyed brief after brief after brief and after that there may have been some more briefs. Once I had moved into my accommodation and got settled I realised how massive Camp Bastion actually is, the staggering amount of people who live and operate from here surprised me. I have found that Bastion is a place of high standards and as a Spr Woodhead soldier in the British Army I am expected to act in the same way. I have found the facilities in Bastion to be varied and of a very high standard. There is plenty to keep me busy and fit when on my down time as the gym has everything you need for Op Massive. I sleep in an eight man tented room, which has a constant and delightful odour of men living in close proximity, topped off with a hint of stinky feet. I was concerned with this being a winter tour but I have been told my room should not flood when the rain starts. After investigating why the flooring seemed to dip in the centre of the room, I found it was due to the previous occupants digging a splendid example of a trench to redirect the flood water, this has made me feel a lot better about the whole situation. I have now been on tour for over two months and have been on various operations (ops) ensuring that routes are made safe to pass for other ISAF and ANSF troops, as well as local people. The operations we have carried out so far have been very different to the things I expected to be doing after my pre-deployment training, but as such within my troop and Squadron we have adapted our practices to the current tasks and jobs at hand. We have so far achieved all that has been expected of us. Most of the time things have gone to plan, except for when we had to leave one location early, due to a mortar attack. This was most inconvenient as one of the lads cut his finger and Cpl Cuthbert spilt his tomato and basil soup. I didnt know what to expect of the Afghan people, so I came out here thinking everyone was probably Taliban, but I realise now that most people are not bothered by our presence and are just trying to get on with their lives. The kids here are just like most kids back home who enjoy playing and are inquisitive. Although I am missing home, I, like most of the lads, am happy to be here doing what we consider to be a worthwhile job. The Talisman line of vehicles

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The Illustrious 1 Troop - LCpl Mottley
As one of seven LCpls within the illustrious 1 Troop, I have deployed on Herrick 17 not only as one of the HMEE operators but I have also taken over the role as the troops fleet manager. Luckily for me Spr Arnall, who has deployed as the The HMEE second HMEE operator within the troop, has taken full responsibility for the upkeep of both HMEE vehicles - keeping them maintained to a high standard with guidance from myself. The tour is allowing him to show great promise for his future courses, after a little more operator experience. This allows me to fully concentrate on the task at hand of insuring that the 10 troop fleet gets out the door. One of the first hurdles to get over was the change in troop titles with 1 Troop now becoming 10 Troop, after that and with a little refresher in manual vehicle documents from both Cpl Forsyth and Cpl Buck, the life of fleet manager for six months became less daunting. It also became more of a game of Tetris, or a nightmare if you ask the Sprs of the troop, who have begun to hide or run in the opposite direction if they see myself with paperwork; knowing that it can only signal one thing and that is more work. Physical training (PT) has become the favourite past time for most of the Talisman Squadron, mostly consisting of Op Massive, boxing training and the SSMs fun time PT on most Saturdays (it also has to be mentioned that the LAD is currently gripped by the insanity work out craze and can be found at 1600hrs most days beasting themselves). Moral is high not only amongst the troops, but on a whole within the Squadron with continual banter being encouraged by the same old faces.

Sprs Connor & Bush Page 9

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4 Armoured Engineer Squadron


OCs ForewordMaj Dent
Just over two and a half months into the tour and for most members of the Squadron the time is flying by. All three Field Troops have been extremely busy over the last few weeks in particular, continuing to provide close engineer support to the Transition Support Units in Lashkar Gah and Nad Ali. The weather is beginning to change now, with a few days of rain and the temperatures falling steadily, so preparing for the onset of the Afghan winter will likely keep us busy in the runup to Christmas. I have it on good authority that unlike the RAF, Santa Claus does fly to Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, so we'll be thinking of you all when we open our blueys and presents in a few weeks time and hopefully you'll all have a mince pie or two for us.

Op Qalb 8 A JNCOs perspectiveLCpl Thornley, 1 Section 2IC, 5 Troop


On arrival in Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 17, and after completing RSOI and other training packages, 5 Troop were told they would be based in Patrol Base (PB) Attal for the foreseeable future. As part of the advanced party, I was tasked to get to the PB and take part in the handover of all the plant machinery, protected mobility vehicles and to help out with the stores. On arrival we discovered the troop we were taking over from were currently on Operations; this hampered our takeover of kit so a lot of time was spent sat around twiddling our thumbs awaiting the arrival of the rest of 5 Troop. As the operation was ongoing, 4 AES received assistance from 73 AES, in the shape of a contingency troop sent forward from MOB Price. They arrived to assist in the build of CP Tabilluah, located in the North West of Pupalzay Kalay. Then as 5 Troop filtered in and with the takeover moving well, we were able to receive the plant, vehicles, stores and accommodation from the outgoing troop. Finally we could make PB Attal as close to home as possible. From then on it was 100mph; we hit the ground running with a 4 day 8 culvert repair task with Cpl McKernan and young Spr The completed culvert at CP Maragha Rowley operating the Light Wheeled Tractor (LWT). This lasted about with Spr Butterworth three hours before the young sapper ended up in a wadi with his unfortunate LWT on its side. My first involvement in the Op was to assist in the recovery of the plant by extending the road so an SVR (REME vehicle) could get in and recover the vehicle; luckily enough we had more than enough plant to continue the tasks. On successfully recovering the LWT the culverts could now be tackled with our full attention. We started at an AUP (Afghanistan Uniformed Police) Check Point, CP Maragha. This involved 2 sections - 2 Section under Cpl McKernan and 3 Section under Cpl Strickland. We had to search the area including going through a wadi with waist deep water, luckily I was sat in the cab of the LWT! This task took us longer than expected due to the local traffic and negotiations with the owner of the land. Once the situation was resolved we cracked on with the culvert and finished it in a day. Once the culverts were complete, we got the troops down to Temporary Check Point (TCP) 55 so we could smash out CP Popalzoy Shakh. This would involve several moving parts including; clearing the area with the Abacott (a mine clearing piece of machinery) and level two fields we were going to use for the CP and Helicopter Landing Site (HLS) with the MWT. All the young lads and the excitable troop commander were buzzing when the helicopters came in. The stores landed and when the excitement calmed down it was time to go and collect the stores and prepare them for the check point build. With the plant machinery going flat out, we got all four perimeter walls in and up. Everyman and his dog were hanging out. At one point we even had the boss in the Hesco with a shovel in his hand, even if it was only for an hour or so! The next few days werent as frantic but still busy, we were at it from 0530 am daily. Page 10

5 Troop

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With an Elevated Expeditionary Sangar (EES), further sangars and cat wire fences to put in everyone was busy with their own task to do. Luckily for us the infantry had done their job to push the insurgents north of our position, this meant building works were fast. On completion of the main tasks we started with the auxiliary tasks such as accommodation, ablution units and desert roses. To say enthusiasm had slowly drifted away was an understatement with our five day beards, sleeping on a solid Afghan compound floor under the stars (some lads in their jungle doss bags) and with cold early starts the long sweaty days and late finishes were taking their toll. We still how- LCpl Thornley, Spr Coomber and Spr ever achieved our aim to the highest of standards. Beardall display weary expressions We finished CP Popalzoy Shakh ahead of schedule and following a clean up, brush down and account of all our stores we were ready to leave and get back to the haven of PB Attal. So with a tired, ragged but happy troop photo in the check point, we were ready to get out of dodge. We arrived back in PB Attal with a sense of achievement and ready for a day or two of down time, however knowing 5 Troop I doubt this would happen. I know though that the lads will be thinking after this build, they could chuck anything at us and wed hit it head on and smash it out. We made the impossible possible. So from the rest of 5 Troop, bring it on!

PB Wahid: Shura UpgradeBy LCpl Fairclough


Under the guidance of the Section Commander, Cpl Sutton, 2 section were given the task of upgrading the front gate Shura (meeting) area. The stores were dropped off at the site, water was taken on board and the job was discussed so everyone knew their roles. This ensured that Cpl Sutton was happy with how the day would pan out. The morning got off to a silky start with LCpl Fairclough in the Bobcat levelling the area around the inside of the front gate whilst the rest of the section bounced out and positioned the Hesco, ready to be filled using the Bobcat. The Hesco was positioned level and square in the morning and after The Bobcat in action our plated lunch we cracked on with the Hesco filling. LCpl Mason had to bring several loads of fill from outside the wire using his Self Load Dump Truck (SLDT). Once completed we could get really going on the task, which actually turned out to be a hot, sweaty and dusty day for the section. Whilst I filled the Hesco with LCpl Masons guidance, LCpl Byrne, Sprs Harper and Allonby pushed the fill inside the Hesco to aid a quality finish in the Hesco run. Spr Hedge was busy chippying away in the Engineer park constructing the new toilets made from plywood and 4x2 timbers. A metal entrance door had to be installed at one end of the Hesco run and Sprs Edwards and Morgan were left to crack on. This involved windlassing the gate to the Hesco to make a solid job. Timber bracings were placed under the toilet and the whole section got hands on to lift it into position, with Cpl Sutton, once again making sure it was level and square. Spr Allonby Once in position, Spr Hedge put the finishing touches on the toilet, which gave the lads a Spr Hedge and Cpl Sutton constructing well-earned drink and smoke break. the toilets A dog leg of HESCO was then bounced out and filled around the toilet area to provide an element of privacy. All the while, whilst cracking on with our task, BFBS TV was with us, filming the lads grafting. Page 11

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The Closure of PB Nahidullah: 4 TroopSpr Roberts
The strip out of PB Nahidullah started with the infantry, the civilian contractors and Lt Barnes conducting a meeting, talking over how we were going to take everything down. From this meeting a plan was devised for how do conduct the strip out and which jobs fell to us, as combat engineers. The information was then passed down to the Section Comds who gave orders to the Sappers, detailing each sections tasks and the timelines for when those tasks would be carried out. Once everyone understood the plan, our first task was to strip out the double Hesco Accommodation Bunker (HAB) next to the Operations Room. LCpl Liam Brady was the task commander and the strip out took 3 days. Wearing body armour, helmets, gloves and glasses proved to be hard work, plus this was the first HAB we have had to strip out, so it was a bit of a learning curve. We have four more double HABs to strip out though so we should get plenty of practice! Learning little ways in which to make the strip go quicker proved invaluable as we got better throughout the task. While the HAB was being stripped a number of other tasks were happening, first being the strip out of the AM2 matting (heavy duty flooring) at the REME workshops and then removing the 25m firing range, which was relatively easy and quick using the plant. Over the next couple of days Cpl Reilly and a section went to PB (Patrol Base) 4 and took down some Hesco in order to extract the Signals ISO Containers so they could be moved to FOB (Forward Operating Base) Shawqat (SQT). While waiting for the ISOs to be transported, Cpl Reilly's section moved to FOB SQT and built another compound for the ISOs to be placed into, this took 2 days. During the time 3 Section were away, Cpl English's Section built toilets and showers in PB Nahidullah (NHD) ready for when the nice toilets and showers get taken away. Spr Ash Street dug some French drains in the Medium Wheeled Tractor so the water from the new ablutions could soak away and then built some desert roses (these pipes stick out of the ground at waist height and are an Afghan solution to urinals). The work for the closure of PB NHD has only just begun but the lads are getting stuck in as living gets less comfortable every day. Soon we will move out of our tents and start living under ponchos while we strip out more HABs, the Helicopter Landing Site and finally the four elevated sangars that protect the camp. Sprs Corthorn, Morrison, Clegg & Jones, stripping out matting

Spr Hicks on the roof of the first double Hesco accommodation to be stripped out

Spr Heath, Lt Barnes, Spr Sanderson & Spr Jones Page 12

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73 Armoured Engineer Squadron


The Closedown of CP Barcha and OP TeghaCapt Rob Sharrock, 9 Troop Commander
Stripping CP Barcha and Observation Post Tegha within the Collation Force Burma Area of Operations (AO) would be the biggest task 9 Troop (Tp) had faced so far during the tour. When I had attended the orders a few days before the operation with the 1st Battalion Scot Guards (1 SG), I was confident that we had a good plan. The Battle Group (BG) had Danish tanks and the Fire Support Group (FSG) sitting on the hill overlooking the bases and our Sapper colleagues from 1st Armoured Engineer Squadron (1st AES) were going to clear the route to the bases using their Talisman vehicles, plus a couple of meaty Warrior armoured vehicles and enthusiastic attack dogs were going to guard the locations whilst we stripped them out.

Lads stripping the elevated sangars at night

Before the Troop got down to CP Barcha, we sent Cpl Al Rothwell down to help advise the Infantry and pack all the unnecessary items away so we could get straight on with the work. This was a great help and meant that as soon as we arrived on site we could start by stripping the internal structures. The Field Sections under Cpl Ian Whitehead-Junior started to carry out the prep work on the elevated sangars and Cpl Alan Landreth took the Plant Operator Mechanics (POMs) away to begin taking down any internal buildings and remove any waste external Hesco. The 1 SG welfare tent soon got in the way of progress so SSgt Kev Bird was deployed to suggest that they may want to remove it and their 40 TV before it got eaten in the bucket of the Medium Wheel Tractor (MWT). At last light the whole Tp were employed stripping two expeditionary elevated sangars (EES). The South West sangar was finished first, with everyone in agreement that this was probably due to the Tp Comds almost single handed effort in stripping the top layer of Hesco, whilst LCpl Steve Davidson and LCpl Sean Smith looked on in awe at his shovelling prowess. Once both sangars were deconstructed, the Field Sections rested and at first light the POMs under Cpl Geordie Landreth, began to tear down the external walls of the CP starting in the South West corner.

LCpl Cummings

As soon as the locals started to see the external walls coming down they flocked around the CP desperately trying to get their hands on any scraps of the Hesco. With the POMs feeling exposed the Infantry increased their cordon and used the highly effective protection dogs to allow the guys to work without interruption. Cpl Whitehead-Junior took Page 13

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his Section to prepare the final elevated sangar and LCpl Whyte used the Self Loading Dump Truck (Protected) (SLDT(P)) and a couple of Sappers to remove the external catwire fence. Again the protection dogs proved highly useful at allowing the guys to again work without interference. The second night saw the stripping of the third elevated sangar under Cpl Whitehead-Juniors guidance, once again bolstered by the Troop Commanders shovelling skills! The plant continued to work late into the night and LCpl Cummings removing waste Hesco using the LWT(P) stripped down almost all of the external walls leaving just a small compound with two sides of Hesco and two sides of local national wall. At first light the Field Sections made sure that everything was removed from the internal compound and SSgt Kev Bird took great delight in smashing up the wooden toilets. They then made their way up to OP Tegha, which was 400m away, to start preparing the elevated sangar and internal walls for stripping. Mean while back at CP Barcha and after some well deserved rest, the POMs under Cpl Geordie Landreth began dismantling the last remaining Hesco walls. The 1 SG Warriors and dismounts were still providing the protection and the Danish tanks on the hill were a welcome sight as we started to peel away the final walls of CP Barcha. At 2200 hours on the third day, 9 Tp had completely removed CP Barcha to a brown field site and were ready to move to their next challenge, OP Tegha. We arrived at OP Tegha in darkness and Cpl Whitehead-Juniors Sect were well underway with the removal of the final elevated sangar, this was complete by midnight and had become a slick drill for the Field Section, coming in with a record time of 4 hrs 45 minutes. The POMs rested after a long day in the chair, but were ready to go at first light for the final surge to strip OP Tegha. At first light the Field Section started to pre-cut the Hesco using the Makita saws whilst the POMs tore down the external walls starting on the Eastern edge. By 1700 hours on the fourth day OP Tegha was no more and had been returned to a completely bare site. The deconstruction of CP Barcha and OP Tegha had been a long four days, but the Sappers of 9 Tp had completed the task 24 hours ahead of schedule. All members of the Tp had worked tirelessly to strip the bases out as quickly as possible and were impressive whilst dealing with the local nationals. The POMs had worked non-stop not only to take down the Hesco walls but also to keep their vehicles up and running in the dusty conditions with minimal spares. Overall it was a great effort by everyone and a Tp task that will not be forgotten lightly.

A month in 1 Troop, 73 AES - LCpl Fox


Our first task this month required the services of the SLDT, the Mastiff and a Wolfhound to be deployed to an Afghan Police station in Gereshk. The two main priorities for this task consisted of erecting a grenade screen and an outer perimeter catwire fence to add protection within the compound. The grenade screen was a fairly simple design using minimal stores to provide the protective screen. As the Afghan Police Station is located close to a populated area, there was a high presence of local nationals, therefore the Danish Army were around to provide over watch so that we could concentrate on completing the task. The next task was at an Afghan National Army camp just on the out skirts of MOB Price. The task was to improve the entrance to the camp and strip out the old sand bag Sangers and replace them with Hesco Sangers. The Afghans seemed very happy with the work we carried out, regularly offering lunch and posing for the many task phoPage 14

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photos. The latest task was a 48 hour build we had to put up a Hesco wall around a signals post. Although the task was within MOB Price all of the aggregate had to ferried to site from the outside of camp. The SLDT was used to transport the required aggregate and fill to site. The early starts and late finishes proved fruitful as this task took us only two days to complete to a high standard.

The Backscatter at MOB Price - Spr Kerry Spr Roberts, Spr Farrel, Spr Flynn, LCpl Fox, Spr Grundy, LCpl Burke, Cpl Becker, Spr Col- It has been a fast paced tour with Troop Commander, Lt Eadie, and Staff Sergeant Eaton deploying us on a wide range of tasks. linson, Spr Mantongo, Spr Chapman The troop is preparing to close down and handover a lot of command posts and patrol bases in the future, so getting the force protection and ablution tasks completed is crucial to stay on track and be flexible to deploy when the squadron needs us.
A recent task the troop deployed on was the Backscatter build outside MOB Price. Backscatter is an x-ray device that scans local national traffic before it passes into the Camp in order to protect the Camp. During the construction of the Backscatter it was astonishing to realise the size of the vehicle search bay. It is constructed out of large Hesco baskets. Due to the height of the Hesco, the self loading dump truck (SLDT) is having to fill the top layer, due to the medium wheel tractor not being able to reach. Spr Walker worked tirelessly in filling the top layer using just one SLDT until another one was available for us to use from nearby base in PB Clifton. Receiving this other SLDT halved the time it took to finish the Backscatter. While on the task, BFBS came down to the construction site and filmed a number of the troop hard at work, including LCpl Burke the medium wheel tractor operator. We have so far had to remain flexible as a troop and adapt to any task that we are given. We are all looking forward to any forthcoming tasks which come our way.

An average week in Patrol Base Clifton - Spr Lees


LCpl Burke being interviewed in his cab by Ali Gibson from BFBS engineering tasks. Cpl Chilton and his section have been involved with the Troops main effort this week and have been deployed to Check Point (CP) Prrang to improve the force protection measures there, this has involved erecting an elevated expeditionary Sanger and improving the razor wire protection for the personnel there. Meanwhile, back at PB Clifton, the remnants of the troop have been tasked with the normal weekly tasks that the Royal Engineers have as their responsibilities, such as maintaining the water supply to the PB, keeping the power running and general maintenance of the vehicle fleet; all of which has been a learning curve for certain members of the troop who have had to adapt to trades other than their own. Page 18 This week in Patrol Base (PB) Clifton has seen the troop spread across the operating area in Helmand on a variety of

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In addition to the weekly tasks undertaken by the troop we have also conducted several small scale PB improvement tasks. We have improved the shower area by removing the floor, laying aggregate on top of the Hesco pad and then levelling and relaying the floor. In addition to this, we have repaired the outer walls razor wire defences. Work also continued on the welfare area for Delta Company Royal Marines, which involved the stripping out of the plywood walls and existing worktops. This is then followed by the construction of wooden frames on which the worktops would sit. In addition to this LCpl Hylands and his team have been cutting down 6 foot pickets using the grinder and then drilling and bolting them together to construct brackets, upon which the wooden frame sits and then on top of this sits the plywood worktop itself. Also Spr Lees made the screens for the laptop area that separate the workstations. Hopefully all this work makes the welfare area a place where the Marines can enjoy going to relax and chill out. A Type 1 cat wire fence was built to serve as a gate to the CP; this was built by Sprs Lees, Jinks and OGorman. The big job for the lads left here was for force protection measures at CP Sarkala in order to better protect the Afghan Uniform Police (AUP) and Marines living down there. The task involved a joint road move with the Marines to travel there and then construct a chicane and catwire fence gate. This was carried out by an 8 man team led by LCpl Hill. Everything went to plan until we arrived at the CP and over the net came a call that there was potential interesting subject on their way down the road. We were told that this required us to intercept the subject as we were the closest soldiers. After successfully identifying the interesting subject, LCpl Hill jumped out and had his hero moment by assisting with his arrest! After all this excitement we then had to go and complete the task as planned which took roughly an hour and was a success with both the Marines and the AUP. Sprs Foster, Farrington and Evans The lads have been down to Patrol Base (PB)1 with Charlie Company 40 Commando Royal Marines this week enhancing and upgrading security for them. They have worked tirelessly installing new sangars, enhancing the perimeter walls and making the Patrol Base more habitable for the guys. I flew down only a couple of days ago and they never cease to impress me. The amount of work they crammed into the first 48 hrs was very impressive and its makes me so proud every time I see their amazing results. Its been very quiet in PB2 though and I am looking forward to having the lads back for a couple of days. Page 16 A job well done

Changing the face of PB1 Lt Graham

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Its almost Christmas - Spr Robbie
Based in Patrol Base 2 in the Nahr-e Seraj District in Helmand Province this tour so far has been very different from my last tour. Clearly operating in the winter is very different from the summer Afghan temperatures of Op Herrick 12. Its freezing, especially at night! On a recent task at Observation Post (OP) Sterga 2, which is situated on a cliff side, we put in loads of Hesco and winterised it. This was my favourite job so far. The views from the cliff were the best I have seen in Afghanistan and as we worked it was amazing watching the helicopters fly around the area. I cant wait for my Rest and Recuperation now and it will be great to see everyone. A bit early but Merry Xmas!

OP11 Upgrade - Cpl Whitehead-Junior,3 Tp


The morning of Monday 12 November, my Section was tasked to move to Observation Post (OP) 11 to upgrade it. We were escorted by the 1 st Battalion Scots Guards to the task site with our stores. Once on site we located our stores quickly and began works on upgrading the site. The infantry section that was located at OP11 seemed very happy to see us as they had been living in some dreary arrangements. The main job was to destroy the poorly constructed sandbag walls that needed upgrading to Hesco walls. With the help of our Plant Operators who seem to think they are gods!!!! The walls started to come down quickly with LCpl Dig Dig Cummings in charge of the plant with Spr Baby face Thompson as the trusty Light Wheeled Tractor operator. Once all the groundworks had been completed it was time for the GODS this being the guys to start the laying of the Hesco. At the same time my illustrious second-in-command LCpl Steve Angry boy Davidson took half of the section and started our razor wire fence which seems to be a favourite within the Troop.

Time was flying and so were the works at least we were ahead of schedule. Soon night was upon us but in true engineer spirit we carried on by starting works on the Western wall. At the end of first day we had completed at least 40% of the task, which was fantastic as we achieved our aim. We then made our way to Check Point (CP) Pan Kalay who were being our travel-lodge for the next few nights and had some hot food in the way of a bowl of tomato soup with mini cheddars. After a good nights sleep we were up at the break of dawn and on our merry way back to OP 11 to continue on with works. Our main focus was to complete the Western wall with a new sangar and some Hesco around the tents for extra protection. As expected the lads dug out blind and cracked on. Soon the Western wall was down, levelled and the Hesco had been laid out but works had to be temporarily halted due to insurgent activity in the area. We moved onto the Hesco for accommodation under the fine direction of LCpl one dad Whyte with his trusty Self Loading Dump Truck. As expected this was flying in and again darkness was upon us. With this, the Section moved to the Western wall where LCpl Angry boy Davidson, along with Spr Same face Webster and LCpl Weight watchers Ambler started the work on the sangar roof. The rest of the Section were now working on the west wall Hesco. It was a late night but the main task now been complete and the Section was on its way back to the travel-lodge. The next morning it was back to the OP to finish off the fencing and tidy the site up as usual before the move back to our base location, all in all a good successful task by the The best looking task line in Helmand?? Section. Page 17

LCpl Smith the REME type with the new protective clothing

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Engineer Tactical Advisory Team (TAT)Capt T Bird


The Tactical Advisory Team (TAT) is made up of ten men from 7 Headquarter and Support Squadron (21 Engineer Regiment) and 42 Field Squadron (28 Engineer Regiment) advising the Afghan National Army (ANA) Engineer Squadron in Helmand. The teams mission is to ensure that the ANA Engineers are ready to operate independently from ISAF by the end of 2014 and by all accounts they are well on their way there. Unlike previous tours of Afghanistan, our team have taken a step back from advising on tasks alongside the ANA. Instead, we are focusing on developing their planning and resourcing abilities, in order to enhance their operating capability. We have delivered some training to enhance their skills, including Plant training by Cpl Bennett and Spr Bird, which was well The TAT

Spr Bird and Cpl Ben- received by the ANA. net delivering Plant Nine members of the team have been in Patrol Base (PB) training Sparta for almost two months now and have been busy making the place that little bit more comfortable in readiness for a harsh Afghan winter. The PB has a rustic feel to it compared to a lot of the larger locations in Helmand and even relies on burning wood for heating our shower water, soon to be replaced with a diesel heater (we hope)! Whatever wood is left over can usually be found in the possession of LCpl Hayward, who has constructed and supervised many improvements around the PB, from an accommodation block to tables and chairs. Sgt Don Campbell is the Resources Advisor based in Camp Shorobak (the ANA camp adjoining Camp Bastion) and is kept busy chasing after ANA Engineer resources and occasionally visits PB Sparta. There are a few tasks planned that will keep the TAT busy for the next four months, but the tour has been slow compared to earlier Operation Herricks. Ultimately the independence demonstrated by the ANA is one step closer to mission success, which will see the reduction of British Forces in Afghanistan and transition to Afghan led security. Engineer Tolay practice a bridge build

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Halloween in Afghanistan....
Capts Luke Wilson & Ash Greenwood

Lashkar GarCapt Ash Greenwood

Life in MOB Lashkar Gar was brightened up significantly for a number of personnel who had their birthday around Halloween. Sgt Wilson (4 AES), notorious for receiving more parcels in a week than the rest of the HQ put together, had not let the side down and produced a number of themed sweets, cakes and decorations to celebrate Lt Sara Callander and Cpl Susie Wharton's birthdays. Many of the HQ element attended the celebrations which were enhanced by a power cut, giving sufficient ambient 'moon lighting' to allow a werewolf to descend on the festivities! (Aka Capt Luke Wilson RHQ).

PB 2Lt Rich Graham


Well it has been an interesting and busy few weeks for the guys but firstly thank you all for the Halloween parcels! The guys had a great time eating sweets, bobbing for apples, dressing up and my favourite running the passage de terror!! The lads decided the only way to enter a Halloween party was to be scared out of your wits and covered in flour! They transformed their 18 x 24 foot tent into a dark, scary and thoroughfare of fear incorporating inflatable weapons, lights, noise and of course the scariest think of them all LCpl Dineley. The evening was a huge success with representatives from all cap badges but by far the funniest moment was the reaction of three Gurkha soldiers upon entering the passage to be greeted with LCpl Freddie Krugger Dineley!! Overall an excellent opportunity for the guys to relax and bond with other cap badges from the PB2 team.

Camp BastionSgt Tasha Robertson


Halloween in Afghanistan is no different from the UK and we put in 100% effort to give the lads a good night, quick quiz, charades, apple dunking followed by sweet picking from flour, egg roulette and horror doughnuts went down particularly well. We even had team entry from RHQ, the CO (Lt Col Nicholson) seemed to enjoy being egged along with the Quartermaster (Maj Cunane), Spr Bingham pretended not to enjoy the opportunity to partake in this, but deep down he loved it. It turns out that the Adjt (Capt Jones) is maybe in the wrong job as his and Lt Brooks acting skills were pretty good during charades; with Apple dunking followed by picking their team getting 4 out of 5 movies correct. It was a good night all round Spr Bingham and SSgt Gibson, RHQ teamin good spirits with only a few people having a cracking time left with bad tastes in their mouths after the horror doughnuts!!

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And Finally....
7 Sqn Second-in-Command spotted at Patrol Base AttalSpr Jordan Rundle Dundle Huntley: Escort 7
On Arriving at Patrol Base Attal with the escort multiple, after a long drive from Bastion, I decided to take a wander to the Scoff house with LCpl Steven Sticky Monster Smith, on our travels I saw a weird and mysterious figure in the distance. When this figure turned around I was surprised to see that Capt Goldie King McCracken with his bouffant was there, I nearly fainted at the sight of him, and that he had escaped out of Bastion. I quickly took a picture then went back to get Spr Ethan Space Chimp Clarke just confirm to me what I was actually seeing, this being such a rare occasion and all, but when we returned he was gone. Nobody knows where he went, or if it was just a case of mistaken identity. To be continued

Spr Jeffreys and Spr Martin

SSgt Eaton

Sgt Burke, Spr Walters, Spr Tetlow, Spr Ward & SSM Aldridge on the Dancon March SSgt Bird takes a nap...

Sgt Campbell

Spr Connor, Cpl Tyrie, Spr Smeeth, Spr Graham Cpl Hughes, Capt Bullock & Lt Honey Sprs Fletcher, Meikle-John & Kerry Spr Bell

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Glossary
Ranks
CfnCraftsman Spr - Sapper LCpl - Lance Corporal Cpl - Corporal Sgt - Sergeant SSgt - Staff Sergeant WO2 - Warrant Officer Second Class WO1 - Warrant Officer First Class Lt - Lieutenant Capt - Captain Maj - Major Lt Col - Lieutenant Colonel

Formations
AES - Armoured Engineer Squadron Fd Engr Sqn - Field Engineer Squadron Hq & Sp Sqn - Headquarters and Support Squadron LADLight Aid Detachment REMERoyal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers Sect - Section SqnSquadron Tp - Troop

Jobs
OCOfficer Commanding SSMSquadron Sergeant Major

Afghanistan specific terms


ANA - Afghan National Army ALP - Afghan Local Police ANP - Afghan National Police ANSF - Afghanistan National Security Force AUP - Afghan Uniformed Police CP - Check Point FOB - Forward Operating Base HESCO - Large flat packed containers made of thick strong wire containing a large sandbag. The sandbag is filled with sand to produce a large protective brick. The individual HESCO blocks are then used like giant bricks to produce a protective wall for our bases. HLS - Helicopter Landing Site IED - Improvised Explosive Device ISAF - International Security Assistance Force JOB - Joint Operating Base Op - Operation, mission, task (not surgery) NES (S) - Nahr-e Saraj South NES (N) - Nahr-e Saraj North Page 21

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NDA - Nad-e Ali PB - Patrol Base SAF - Small Arms Fire SANGAR - A watch tower which is manned 24 hours a day to provide protection to a base SOP - Standard Operating procedure Stag - standing in the sangar keeping watch and providing protection TFH - Task Force Helmand

Equipment
Apache - Attack helicopter Chinook - Troop carrying helicopter HMEE An armoured tractor HUSKY - Large armoured vehicle LWTLight wheeled tractor MASTIFF - Large armoured vehicle with a with a heavy machine gun for protection Merlin - Medium Royal Air Force and Navy helicopter used to move Troops around from base to base MWT - Medium wheeled tractor SLDT(P) - Self Loading Dump Truck (Protected) Sea-king - Royal Navy helicopter used as search and rescue in the UK TALISMAN - A series of vehicles used to clear a route of improvised explosive devices

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