Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Royal Military Policewoman LCpl Christy-Lee Ray, attached to Fire Support Company, 1 R Welsh
The last week has been a real experience for me. I have been in the Army for three years now and, in addition to my RMP training, I did a whole year of special training for this tour. Just recently returned from my home leave (R&R), I landed back at Camp Bastion expecting to return to my job with The Rifles. However I discovered that I was being attached to Fire Support Company, 1 Royal Welsh for Op Moshtarak.
I was genuinely excited to be part of such a massive operation, yet loading onto the helicopter in the dark and the dust on the first night I was also a bit nervous. But really you just get on with it. The entry into our objective was tough – we were cold, wet and muddy. Also we all had to carry extra equipment as well as our normal kit. I am only 5’3” and so the weight is tough for me. The first 24 hours out here I found it quite hard, but I have got a used to it now.
Currently I am one of only two females in the Patrol Base. The other girl has to go back to Bastion shortly so then it will be just me. However I just muck in with it all and the lads can see that I do my job just the same as them so there is no difference between us. I do everything that they do but I am also a team medic so when we go out on patrol they will look to me if things go wrong. Working in this environment with the local people I am also a valuable asset as a female searcher.
I won’t go into the full details, but I have already started my main role which is to collect information on the local villagers and movements in the area. I then feed this information back to my boss so it can be used to build a bigger picture of conditions on the ground. It all helps in our efforts to provide a safer environment for everyone in our area of responsibility.
So far it all seems to be is going really well on and the locals have been friendly, helpful and seem to be on side. It is a bit strange really for life to be this quiet, but hopefully it will remain that way and I can just keep on with my job.
It is amazing how the Patrol Base has changed in the short time we have been here. From a bare compound when we took it on D Day, there is now a wash area, a cook area and even a makeshift gym. Most importantly the solar showers arrived by helicopter re-supply and I did enjoy having my first shower for several days.