Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Its 0300 hrs and the Fire Support Group (FSG) A Company 3RIFLES from FOB NOLAY, just south of Sangin are preparing to move out on a Company operation to find and arrest a known Improvised Explosive Device (IED) maker.
I am LCpl Paul Livingston, a ‘Jackal' armoured vehicle commander and currently acting as A Company’s FSG second in command. Early starts like this are common because they allow us to move into position without the enemy knowing where we are, giving us the element of surprise. Our role is to secure a route for the Company to move along, and then using the high ground, provide overwatch to allow the Company to move forward safely to the target compound.
Not every morning is this busy. Usually my day starts at around 0600hrs. I get into my morning routine, washing, shaving and getting some breakfast, before attending the daily operational brief, which tells us what patrols are happing during the day. This is important especially for the FSG, as we are the quick reaction force (QRF) if any patrols need assistance”
The rest of the morning is spent doing essential maintenance on all the Jackal armoured vehicles, making sure they are fighting fit for whatever task the FSG may well find itself dealing with. As the second in command of the FSG my main responsibility is that we have enough ammunition, water, fuel and man power to carrying out any tasking we are given. The vehicles we have are the key to our mobility, so if they are in rag, we are practically useless.
Lunch at FOB NOLAY usually consists of noodles, pasta, and any leftovers from breakfast, but every now and again something special gets laid on like frankfurters or quiche. Usually after lunch a trip to the gym is usually on the menu. The gym at NOLAY is pretty basic, but there is enough here to beast yourself with. Hopefully there will be some extra gym equipment in time for Christmas.
Throughout the day there is the usual task of ‘Stagging on’, in the Sangers to provide protection for the FOB. Constant improvements to the FSG’s accommodation are always taking place. The most recent additions to the FSG, two chickens and two goats have meant that a new enclosure has been created to keep them till Christmas, where they will make a fine addition to the usual lunchtime meal of noodles. The evening is an ideal time to try and relax. We all try and get together and watch a film or play a few games on the Wii games console.
Over the next few days I will be leaving NOLAY to be a part of an ISAF operation to establish new patrol bases along a key supply route. The days leading up to this will be taken up by battle preparation, getting all the vehicles, and ourselves ready for the challenge. I’m really looking forward to the operation. Once it is complete it will bring much more security to a large area and will cut down movement to the insurgents.”
I wish my girlfriend a Happy Christmas, good luck with the birth, and I can’t wait to see you
LCpl Livingston platoon commander Captain Andy Michael says “LCpl Paul Livingston is an exemplary soldier. He is physically robust, professional, and cares deeply about the rifleman in his charge. He is much liked by his commanders and all members of the A Company FSG”.