Afghan Army Training
I have now attached myself to Colour Sergeant Jim Bastin of the Inkerman Company of the Grenadier Guards. He is part of the 3rd Kandak training team. I have been able to film him running through some basic drills with them on the helicopter pad.
I am going to spend more time with both Colour Sergeant Bastin and the 3rd Kandak to see how this â€˜mentoringâ€™ works. It is clearly a demanding and dangerous role.
The Guardsmen from the Grenadiers are very much as I remember them. Except they are busier, more together and very confident. Then they are 5 months into an active service deployment where they have seen lots of action.
They are hugely proud and very competitve with the other units one one level but work very closely on another. It has taken a short time to be accepted but they are more relaxed with me now and I am included in their conversations.
I have met two officers who knew about the Frontline Club and our events. See frontlineclub.com.
When I speak to the officers about the opium problem in Helmand they are convinced that its eradication impacts the military sitation. I am concerned that it is a distraction and that destroying the crop might cause hardship for th the local Afghans. While they share this concern they tell me that the intelligence that they receive is compelling and demonstrates that large amounts of the profits from its production goes to support the Taliban’s operations. There is evidence that suggests that the amount of opium grown in Helmand has nearly doubled over the last 12 months.