Lance Corporal Ryder arrived in Helmand on Operation HERRICK 14 a few weeks ago, and has started blogging from the front line. Last week, his unit was focused on manning vehicle checkpoints (VCPs) along Helmand’s Highway 1 and Route 601. In his blog, he explains why the checkpoints are so important:
VCPs serve as an effective deterrent to any insurgents wishing to use the main highways and routes for things such as drug running, weapon and improvised explosive device transportation. It also gives us a perfect opportunity to collect biometric information from the population of Afghanistan.
Due to Highway 1 being one of the main supply routes all the way around Afghanistan, it isn’t just the locals who use it. People from all over the country travel along it around the clock.
As with everything we do, the VCPs have been conducted with maximum input, command and control from the Afghan National Security Forces [ANSF], although at some points we have had to take over and assist them more.
The VCPs we conducted turned out successful and ended with us gaining a large amount of intelligence about illegal insurgent checkpoints on the main supply routes.
It was while conducting a routine ground domination patrol around an area called Durai East, approximately 1km to the south of his checkpoint, that Lance Corporal Ryder saw the Warrior armoured vehicle trigger an IED. He said:
The patrol started off like any other, with no insurgent radio chatter or anything. About half-an-hour in, an IED was triggered by the Fire Support Team vehicle. The force of the blast knocked the Warrior onto its right-hand side.
When the blast went off soldiers from the second Warrior confirmed people were OK and talking inside the vehicle. At the same time the dismounted troops made best speed over, using the metal detectors in order to avoid any secondary devices.
As it turned out, all the crew were conscious and not suffering from any serious injury. Whilst this was happening, the Quick Reaction Force was deployed from the patrol base, and assisted in providing protection.
The minor casualties were eventually extracted by Chinook helicopter back to the field hospital to be checked over, and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers recovered the vehicle back to Lash Durai [the patrol base].
The insurgents claimed they had killed seven of us, and that the bodies were extracted by a fast jet - which shows just how accurate they are with their reporting, and the propaganda they use to spread misinformation.
Shortly after this incident Lance Corporal Ryder’s platoon was given a new area of operations. He writes:
The area we have moved into has been seeing an increase in insurgent activity of late. The last few days have been filled with patrols helping us get used to our new area. We are focusing on how different the ground is - more ‘green zone’ and less desert - and how the local population reacts to ISAF presence.
Also it has given us yet another group of ANSF to work with, this time all Afghan National Police. They all seem very keen to fight and get the insurgents so we’ll see how things go over the next week.
The previous week, Lance Corporal Ryder wrote about undertaking reassurance patrols in Maiwand, near Patrol Base Lashkamear Durai, where his unit is based. He wrote:
Describing life in the patrol base (PB) as ever-changing, Lance Corporal Ryder wrote:
Being fairly new [the PB] is a place that is constantly expanding and improving. We’ve recently had an internet terminal installed, so we are now able to communicate home over that rather than just using the satellite phone.
Overall the morale here is high, made better by the fact blokes have started to go on R&R [Rest & Recuperation]. Everyone’s cracking on with the job at hand and we are enjoying it the majority of the time! It’s good to finally be doing the job we all trained for [for] so long.
Blogs by Service personnel in Afghanistan can be found at the Royal Navy, Army and RAF blog sites, accessible via the Afghanistan Blog or Defence Social Media Hub. See Related Links.
Yesterday, the MOD launched a campaign aimed at encouraging Service personnel and MOD civilians to carefully consider possible repercussions before posting information on social networking sites. See Related News for more on this.