Saturday, February 27, 2010
WO2 Greg Reece RA – Military Stabilisation and Support Team - Op Moshtarak
“It will be a success if it is a total anti-climax.”
That was what we were told. In reality we planned for a big fight, platoon size, out of area fighters willing to stand their ground. All roads IED’d. Possibly IED’d helicopter landing sites.
First light on a cold morning on the outskirts of Naquilabad Kalay and the insertion had gone better than expected. No IEDs, no firing, a slightly longer walk than expected (thanks RAF!) and we were looking down the main street of the town ..... from a safe distance.
“Suppose we better go and meet the locals”, a small group of curious local Nationals were stood at the edge of town wondering what all the fuss was about.
After talking with them for a very short time we realised these weren’t the ‘out of area’ fighters we were expecting and they invited us to walk with them down high street. They really wanted to show off their town. The commander agreed and Neil (our intelligence officer) and I were leading the patrol, carried on a wave of people that slowly grew until we reached the town centre.
We were invited to hold an impromptu Shurah, for 300 locals! I remember looking at my watch. It was 1000hrs on D Day. “I’m sure we’re not supposed to be here doing this until D+10, maybe later, what are we going to do with the next 9 days?”
If you were looking for a fight it most definitely was an anti climax. If, like me, you were supposed to stabilise and support the local community it was the exact opposite.
What we found in Naquilabad Kalay was a thriving (if not scared) community. Well kept trees lined the main street with hand pump wells every 20 metres. Good irrigation, healthy people, healthy animals. In fact quite an affluent society, happy to see ISAF, just needing a bit of security ‘Thank you very much!’
So, job done; everyone happy, hand your bedding in, we can all go home! Don’t know what all the fuss is about!
The truth is however, what do I do now? My job is not to rebuild lives, homes and jobs. That’s done. “A little bit of security, thank you very much!”
Maybe they could do with a leisure centre!!!