Wednesday, December 9, 2009
There is no such thing as a normal day in Afghanistan.
One of my platoons has begun to partner a Platoon from the Afghan National Army. The Afghans have already got a small team of UK mentors in their camp, but this move is part of the renewed effort to help the Afghan National Army take on the insurgency with more vigour.
All the planning and conduct of patrols is done jointly. The platoon has worked extremely hard in the last forty eight hours to give their new home enough protection.
The insurgents have responded in a number of ways but today they out did themselves.
The Afghan Army Platoon had received some information that the insurgents were going to try to strap an IED to a donkey and send it towards the camp. Donkeys do not have the reputation of being the most compliant animal, so it was treated with some scepticism at first.
Then in the afternoon the gate guard realised there was something suspicious going on. A group had just let go of a donkey a short way from camp and hurried off. He tried to divert the animal with flares and other warnings.
Obstinacy not being the best quality in that situation, the beast of burden eventually had to be stopped by a rifle shot.
The team went out and established there was something very suspicious under the bundle of hay carried by the donkey.
Eventually one brave ANA warrior set fire to the hay with a flare from a distance, and 30 seconds later there was a considerable explosion. No one was hurt.
Swift appropriate action had saved them from an unusual attack. But it is impossible to report a donkey IED up the chain of command without either a wry smile at the ridiculousness or a feeling that the world is slightly off its axis.