September 5, 2007

Vaughan in the field

Vaughan’s still in Helmand and a new post is coming within minutes… Here’s a photo of the man himself enjoying the company of a large cuddly toy, a helmet and a wall. There are more Frontline Club photos, including more from Vaughan in Afghanistan, in the Frontline Club Flickr pool – which is free to […]

September 5, 2007

They are not Tanks

[video:youtube:HEDRM6l0SKs] I was in Gereshk to witness the first deployment in Southern Afghanistan of what the military would call “proper armour”. A company of Scots Guards, called the Right Flank, arrived in a large sand-cloud with more than 20 “Warrior” armoured fighting vehicles. Soldiers frown and straighten their collars when you call them tanks because […]

September 5, 2007

The Military Press Officer

Lieutenant Commander Mike Parr of the Royal Navy has been with me wherever I go in Helmand. I would not have been allowed to come here without a “minder”. Mike’s main job is to make sure that I don’t compromise operational security. To check that I don’t put the soldiers lives at risk by what […]

September 2, 2007

Shot by a sniper

Last week photographer John D McHugh popped into the Frontline Club to give a talk about his time in Afghanistan and to explain how he was shot by a Taleban sniper. He blogs about it on his personal blog, I went and got myself shot. Yes, that’s right, shot. In the chest. With a real […]

August 30, 2007

May the Mastiff be with you

Yesterday Frontline Club head honcho, Vaughan Smith, met the blast-proof ‘Mastiff PPV’ for the first time. As 25 tonne, £265,000 combustion engine powered vehicles go, it’s rather impressive. Introduced in September 2006, the gargantuan armour plated truck is quite literally a lifesaver, according to the Royal Tank Regiment’s Corporal Upton who speaks in Vaughan’s video […]

August 29, 2007

Afghan Army Training

[video:youtube:kQ-S-ipUmQk] 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 […]

August 29, 2007

Camel Spider!

I have never seen a camel spider (solifugae) before but have heard stories about them. I had company last night.

August 29, 2007

Sangin Patrol and the Mastiff

[video:youtube:z7oJLwUUEHg] This morning I went on patrol with the Queen’s Company of the Grenadier Guards and the First Kandak of the Afghan National Army commanded by Major Attaullah. The commander of the British ‘mentors” was Colour Sergeant “Spook” Boak. The job of training and fighting with indigenous forces is the sort of role that Special […]

August 27, 2007

Sangin River

[video:youtube:aP9WHMG2a90] I arrived in Sangin this morning by helicopter and met up with the Queens Company, Grenadier Guards. The was a soldier in the Queens Company 20 years ago. When the Parachute Regiment were in Sangin last year they were subject to almost constant attack from the Taliban. Attacks now are relatively infrequent but you […]

August 26, 2007

Peter and the Gandamac Lodge

[video:youtube:2iltEbDjM_M] While waiting in Kabul, to come down to Helmand, I stayed at Peter Jouvenal’s Gandamac Lodge. It’s run by Peter and his Afghan wife, Hassina, and I have never stayed anywhere quite like it. I was in Kabul in 2001 when Peter decided to open a guesthouse there. He had just finished as John […]

August 24, 2007

Afghanistan and the Grenadier Guards

I am off to spend some time with my old army unit who are currently in the thick of it in Helmand, Afghanistan. I used to be a Captain in the Grenadier Guards 20 years ago. I left in 1987 and went out to Afghanistan to become an independent video journalist. I have been back […]

May 1, 2007

The death of Ajmal Naqshbandi

Ever since his videotaped beheading by the Taliban on the afternoon of Sunday, April 8, Ajmal Naqshbandi has become a household name in Afghanistan. No death in recent years has so galvanized public opinion here. Like the murder of Margaret Hassan in Iraq a few years ago, Ajmal’s has come to epitomize the horror of […]

March 19, 2007

Fires of Helmand

I had often wondered what it would be like to be pitched from the warm, sleep inducing sightless world of an armoured personnel carrier straight out the door into a fire fight. The moment arrived on the west bank of the River Helmand in early March with almost no warning. “Fucking hell,” a Marine corporal’s […]

March 4, 2007

Afghanistan diary

In a ten day combat reconnaissance mission last week the Royal Marines of ‘J’ Company, 42 Commando, pushed into the Pashtun heartland of northern Helmand, the traditional bastion of the Taliban insurgency. Weaving between the towns of Sangin, Naw Zad and Musa Qala the marines conducted operations on a mobile patrol that covered more than […]

January 24, 2007

View from a Grain of Sand

The road to Kabul is littered with the carcasses of war – Soviet army tanks left rusting in the arid landscape, overturned buses without wheels that will never complete their journeys and the gaping wounds of bullet-ridden buildings. This is the scenery of modern Afghanistan. It is a country that has seen constant battle over […]

May 25, 2006

On the Road to Kandahar

No one knows how Britain’s Nato adventure in Afghanistan will end. Depending on who you listen to, it is either one of the most dangerous policing roles in the new age of asymmetric warfare, or a consolidation of the post-9/11 achievements of the international community. Military commanders who pick up Jason Burke’s Road to Kandahar […]