News story

Commanding logistic patrols in Helmand

British troops handed over the responsibility for security in Sangin to US forces in September, a move which allowed UK forces to focus their…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

British troops handed over the responsibility for security in Sangin to US forces in September, a move which allowed UK forces to focus their efforts in central Helmand.

Lieutenant Treanor, B Troop Commander, 15 Squadron, Close Support Logistic Regiment, was a key member of the team responsible for recovering the British kit.

He was the Logistics Commander for the operation which means he was responsible for briefing the troops who would be carrying the loads, dealing with incidents on the way to and from the objective, as well as keeping a handle on exactly how many people and vehicles were in transit at any one time.

Describing the outward journey, Lieutenant Treanor said:

Our journey up, although lengthy, was relatively incident-free. We did have one improvised explosive device [IED] strike which destroyed a set of mine rollers and took us a while to correct, but the main thing is that we made it up OK.

As we got near Forward Operating Base [FOB] Nolay our route took us through some of the local farmers’ fields, with our vehicles leaving big tracks straight through the newly-ploughed land. We carry money to compensate local people when we damage their property and the Combat Logistic Patrol [CLP] commander instructed me to hold a shura with the locals to apologise for the damage.

By the time my vehicle arrived at the scene there was a crowd of children watching us go past, as well as a tribe of elders watching on from afar. I dismounted my vehicle and waved to them as I walked over. I took my helmet and eye protection off to show them that I meant no harm.

They were pleased to see me and it was useful to have the ANA [Afghan National Army] with us because they were able to translate for me - Pashtu not being my first language.

I shook hands with and apologised to the farmer. He assured us it was OK, and that there were no IEDs in the area. We chatted for a while as the kids ran around, and he seemed quite surprised when I told him he would be compensated for the damage to his fields. The atmosphere was good and we parted on good terms, although we made a note not to push our luck by coming back the same way!

On reaching the old British base in Sangin, Forward Operating Base Nolay, now being used by American troops, Lieutenant Treanor and his soldiers got all the kit into their trucks and got ready for the return leg. He continued:

FOB Nolay is possibly the dustiest place I have ever seen. In parts it was knee-deep and it got absolutely everywhere! When we’re out on a CLP water is rationed so we don’t shave, and some of the lads looked really old with their dusty grey hair and shaggy beards!

Lieutenant Treanor then described the return leg of the journey:

The return leg was more kinetic and we came under fire a few times, from a great distance away. The rounds were mostly inaccurate and it was difficult to make out the firing points so we weren’t always able to return fire.

After the first day we laagered up for the night in the middle of the desert. I remember craving a McDonald’s that night and having the song Dr Jones by Aqua going round in my head as I listened to the radio in the early hours.

Our rations have much improved recently and the main meals are generally very good. Having said that, lunch is usually a mixture of dry biscuits and nuts and raisins. This gets very boring after a couple of days and my radio operator likened it to eating bird seed - which explains my longing for the golden arches, but not the strange pop song… it must have been very late!

The next day we made for Camp Bastion, passing through the town of Gereshk during the lunchtime rush hour. There were people everywhere and it was a really vibrant place.

At one point I noticed two lads on donkeys shouting and waving at me as they raced to keep up with my vehicle!

Getting back to Bastion was a great feeling, and having not washed for six days it was good to get a shower and get some fresh clothes once we had sorted all our kit out.

This was Lieutenant Treanor’s and his squadron’s second visit to Sangin in the last few weeks - their first Combat Logistic Patrol on this deployment saw them delivering seed and fertiliser to the Sangin area.

You can read more about Lieutenant Treanor’s experiences in Helmand on the UK Forces Afghanistan blog site at Related Links.

Published 10 November 2010