Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lieutenant Colonel Rosie Stone at Camp Bastion

Pictures by Staff Sergeant Will Craig

Lights from my vehicle briefly lit up a line of tense faces as I passed column after column of British and Afghan soldiers interspersed with French and Estonians en route to the helicopter flight line at Camp Bastion. It was 3 o’clock in the morning and finally, after weeks of training and preparation Op Moshtarak was officially underway.

The heavy sound of dozens of rotor blades turning filled the air, and dust kicked up by all the activity hit the back of my throat as I stepped out onto one of the forming up points.

My team’s job was to ensure that all the embedded journalists who will be covering the operation from the frontline were delivered to the right helicopter on time. It marked the end of the busiest 48 hours the Media Operations Centre has experienced since the start of 11 Light Brigade’s tour in Helmand Province.

As with the Battle Group soldiers and aircrew gathered throughout Bastion we had experienced laughter, nerves and a sense of camaraderie with our media guests, but now everyone was firmly focused on the job ahead.

Large groups of men moved into their pre allotted holding areas. Some carried ladders over their shoulders, ready to be used for climbing over the walls into village compounds. Others were burdened with the powerful general purpose machine gun and heavy belts of ammunition. Corporal Lino Woolfe from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps quietly knelt beside his specialist search dog, patiently waiting to be loaded onto his assigned Merlin helicopter.

It was a scene that I have never experienced before in the twenty two years that I have served in the military and will likely never experience again. The mix of tension and anticipation was tangible from the Battle Group.

At the designated time loadmasters signaled for the groups to move, and in a well practiced drill hundreds of troops shouldered their kit and marched in single lines up the helicopter ramps and disappeared from view.

I then moved round to the end of the runway and witnessed an historic sight as wave after wave of helicopters rose up from the dust and the darkness, heading North East towards Nad e Ali.

My enduring memory will be looking up into the sky as the lines of helicopters gradually faded into the distance looking like a string of pale amber fairy lights.


  1. There are MILLIONS of us right now in the US who are praying constantly for you all. Godspeed.

    Maggie Goff
    Bisbee, Arizona, USA

  2. mmm yes its a good blog gives me a veiw to whats going on over there it was nice to see photos thanks
    whats the food like on front line ?

  3. You are all heroes, we sit at home and take each day for granted not realising exactly whats going on put there with our troops, l pray each day that you will all come home safe and well, and in particular GOD BLESS the MERLIN crews l know they are angels in disguise, and theres one of them l deeply love.