Friday, May 29, 2009
Lt Andy Huxter, 11 Platoon, 2 RIFLES, FOB Gibraltar, Helmand
Greetings from Forward Operating Base Gibraltar (FOB GIB)! It has been a busy period for C Coy. The handover/ takeover was in full swing by the advance party when the first main body flight arrived by Chinook on the 10th April.
After a quick set of QBO’s, Cpl Davenport’s section headed down to the Afghan National Army (ANA) Patrol Base located about 500m South of the main FOB, where they met the ANA Platoon with whom they would be living and patrolling for the next few days. In no time Rfn Querino had learned how to bake bread – in an oven made out of an 81mm Mortar ammunition tin. Cpl Warrillow was focussing on feeding us, and his flair in the kitchen was soon displayed through a classic Pasta Bolognaise, only bettered by Cpl Edwards’ Pizzas (based on prior Pizzeria experience, no less!).
10 Pl had a less rushed start, but certainly no less tricky, taking over the mantle of Patrols Platoon from Zulu Coy 45 Commando, who were both experienced and battle hardened. They had several patrols that proved their ability and allowed them to gain good ground experience and confidence in both their kit and their training. Rfn Malou engaged well on joint patrols with the ANA and is doing well learning the local pattern of life. Carrying weight has come as a shock to some, not so LCpl Wilson who is more than happy to carry his fair share and some!
Meanwhile, back in the insular little world of our FOB there has been a lot of work taking place getting to grips with improving security, making life more comfortable and considering how long it will take us to turn ourselves into ripped, tanned, and for some, moustachioed men, as well as wondering if there is a short cut! Some, mentioning no names (CSM!) could do this, if only he didn’t drive from the Ops room to the cook house on his quad bike, a massive 15m walk as the crow flies!
The changeover with the patrol base went smoothly, if not happily for the 10 Pl partner section who discovered none among their number could cook! 11 Pl went on their first couple of Platoon level patrols and, although not striking out very far are quickly getting to grips with patrolling in this environment.
The poppies are beginning to shed their petals and the harvest is in full swing so the fields are busy with local farmers and the insurgents’ priorities are currently on capitalist matters in our area. The temperature is increasing day by day, and the unseasonable rainstorms of late are fading into memory – the feeling of ‘cold’ isn’t a factor any more and there is a lot more warming up to go yet! Our flip flop and watch strap tan lines are coming on nicely.
Lt Andy Huxter
OC 11 Platoon