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Inside this issue


Commanding Officer’s Foreword
29 AES - Love is defi- 8 nitely in the air

37 AES - Great ‘G4 It just happens!’


Like Germany and the UK, Helmand has now truly entered the winter. With frozen pipes, crisp mornings and a relentless cold wind, you might be mistaken for the elements of the Regiment to be a little depressed. Thankfully that is not the case, with the guys relentlessly working in all conditions; as a Regiment we continue to push ourselves and succeed in everything that we do, from supporting operations to destroying drug caches, to ploughing through minefields or building one really, really big bridge! Last week was particularly busy when we had the General Officer Commanding 1 (UK) Armoured Division visit the Brigade, and Regiment in particular. General Bashall landed by helicopter in Patrol Base Jahan Zeb…a large mud walled compound in which OC 44 HQ & Sp Sqn lives alongside the 4th Afghan Army Battalion. With his small band of Advisors they are responsible for the expanding security east of Lashkar Gah. Together with the Afghan engineers, they are building a key road to connect 4 check points together and in doing so will tie down the overall security in that area. Each day Sgt Stubbs, Cpl Debenham and the rest of the lads face a persistent insurgent who is set on denying the road being laid, yet without complaint they mentor the Afghans on how to build and defend the area. Once General Bashall had received a few briefs from Majors Steve White and Si Carvel, he then met up with Capt Mike Barrett and Sgt Terris from 77 (Talisman) Squadron. The Squadron deliver an important capability within Helmand; with their various vehicles and equipment they tackle the insurgents’ favourite method of waging their war – the improvised explosive device; the one weapon that has caused more incidents than any other over here. The General was pretty impressed with the dedication and skill those lads in 77 displayed and how they operate the variety of equipment that was on display. Once the visit was completed, the Troop returned to Camp Bastion before deploying yet again on another operation.

44 HQ & SP SQN Top Tips for returning home from Sgt Fox


77 Talisman Sqn - A foreword from the SSM


11 Field Sqn - Home- 30 coming information

Photo competition 36 Get your photos in quick to be in with a chance of winning a Fujifilm s3300 Camera Valentines message from Baby Hector 37

Messages from the Editor - Make sure you know about the homecoming events


Issue 14 09 February 2012 Page 1

We then took the General to see Cpl Debenham and his section on Route Langholm, the road that the Afghan engineers are constructing in face of the enemy. Although pretty risky, to take a senior UK officer to an area that is always under insurgent threat, the RSM did a great job in ensuring it went without incident. I suppose seeing the Afghans on their little skid-steer diggers doing wheelies and spinning doughnuts on the spot was perhaps not what we wanted, but then at least they were doing something! In all it was a great visit, with the General hugely impressed with everything that the Regiment is doing; his understanding of the variety of tasks across Afghanistan was an education to him and he is really looking forward to meeting the Regiment and families at our Medals Parade in late March. We can now say the Regiment returns home next month. Time out here continues at a fast pace with much work still to do. Alongside activity in Helmand, the team in RHQ along with the Rear Ops Team, are planning the Homecoming events; we only have 47 days to sort it all out.! Thank you for your consistent support.

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29 Armoured Engineer Squadron
Officer Commanding’s Foreword
Hello Family and Friends After a brilliant R&R, which is a common theme in the Squadron, I have returned to the thick of the action here in Helmand. The tasks continue to flood in (literally when it rains heavily and ISAF troops get wet!) and we have some significant work ongoing. We are all very happy to use the following phrase to others in Afghanistan; “We are going home next month!” A great feeling to know that the Squadron will begin to return to Paderborn in March and will all be home before the 26th. In the week I have been back I have been out to see Cpl Debenham, his section and the Afghan Engineers building a new route out to the east of Lash kar Gah. He seemed to be loving the independence of the task and enjoyed hosting the General Officer Commanding 1 (UK) Armoured Division when he visited their important work. Along with the SSM there has also been time to get right out in to the Green Zone of Nahr-e-Saraj to visit Cpl Haynes building a brand new checkpoint in an area known as Kopak. All the lads were in great form and loving the austerity of the location – Spr Coveney and LCpl Bradley were fantastic chefs too considering the lack of pans, pots and spoons! Their efforts are central to expanding the ISAF presence in the area and linked to the construction of a new road and establishment of Afghan Local Police. That road, called Route Minley (name selected by Capt Miller) is being constructed by 2 Troop from 11 Field Squadron. As the work is in the battle space supported by 29, this troop has been moved under command for the remainder of the task; I met them all and their energy is really obvious. They are very keen to get the month long task complete and will, I am sure, deliver success. Anyway, there will be pictures in the next edition for all to see. Finally I have got out to the bridge construction at Malvern. After two months planning, moving stores and preparing the ground we are finally building the bridge! SSgt Warren-Nicholls is “all over it” and the lads are doing a professional job. We are already up to 10 bays in two days (20m long) so well on schedule and well up to standard. There is an article below about those who are on site currently and plans are afoot to have Facebook updated every day too. We have a large media event later in February so you may even see the bridge and the lads involved in the press or on the TV! We shall see... Best wishes, Si Carvel

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By Spr Shaw, 6 Troop
On the 11 of January 2012, 4.6 Troop (Remnants of 4 and 6 Tp combined) deployed from PB Attal to the site of a new Check Point (CP) construction West of Pupalzay under the command of SSgt Brown and Cpl Abbott. 24hrs prior to the section arriving at the CP, SSgt brown deployed with the infantry to take over the compound which had been used as a firing point by the insurgents in the past. That’s when what felt like “OPTAG training serials” began. Firstly with the news came through that the female occupant was in labour which resulted in the drafting in of medics and doctors to get the fePatrolling to take over the male to the hospital. This decompound layed our occupation of the compound but it was too late to turn back as we had shown our intent to build a CP in the area and the opportunity would not arise again. Having Playing in the big puddles again! moved the mum to be Opps! (who had a boy by the way) it was time to secure the compound and the remaining members of the family began packing. They were happy to move for us and very glad to have us in the area, right up until they lost most of their worldly goods in an irrigation ditch as their tractor and trailer slid into a huge irrigation ditch. This also provided the que for the insurgents to begin shooting at us. When we arrived the next day SSgt Brown met us on the road south of the compound and we moved straight into the task. Before we could enter the proposed site of the CP, we had to construct a culvert to allow a convoy to deliver our stores site. The culvert was approximately 150m away from the compound. During the construction of the culvert, I was to remain as top cover on the General Purpose Machine Gun in the 2 minutes for a rest? Huskey, with support from C Coy Queens Royal Hussars (QRH) in their Jackal vehicle with a 50 calibre machine gun Home sweet home……... mounted. Approximately 2hrs into the culvert construction we heard rounds whizzing round us, coming from a compound 400m to my west. As the members of the section dived into ditches, myself and the QRH gunner opened fire onto the compound as we could positively identify the target. The insurgents fled but they were followed by the surveillance assets.
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Once the guys had finished constructing the culvert they were able to direct civilian aggregate trucks over the new culvert enabling them to drop the stone next to the compound until the first driver managed to hit the culvert and partially destroy it. This meant they had to drop their aggregate on the road and the remaining stores had to be carried by hand 150m down the road into the new compound which took us until 0200hrs in the morning. With a start at 0630hrs, Richy Crowther, Daz Abbott and I would start the build of the Sangar, while Tom Hill, ‘Blacky’ Black and Steve McKernon would make a start on the ablutions putting their joinery skills to the test. To build the Sangar framework took 6 hrs and then we would begin to start filling the HESCO which surrounds the top with sandbags. However an absolute godsend occurred (2IC: Not a miracle, we plan and arrange these things), a crane and hopper arrived on site to fill the HESCO on top of the sanger. The crane saved morale and time which is just as well because whilst building we again came under small arms fire with a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) thrown in for good measure. After another long day we finished at 2300hrs. With the bulk of the work completed, the remaining 2 days were finishing off the toilets and showers, constructing firing platforms and general jobs around the new CP to make life a little easier for the Infantry who would be based there. With small arms fire and RPG not putting us off, the insurgents tried to flood us out using the irrigation system. This nearly gave SSgt Brown a nervous breakdown trying to sort it out and with roads collapsing under vehicle weights thrown in for good measure we almost didn’t make it out in time for our well earned R&R. The task was tough but very rewarding and has made another dent in the insurgents ability to control the district of Pupalzay in Lashkar Gah.
Looking satisfied with a job well done

The latrines - luxury………?

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As relaxing as an Afghan sunset . . .
By Spr ‘Briefcase’ Johnson, 4 Tp
What is it that you do to relax? Sit back and watch a good movie, curl up with an interesting book or go for a nice long stroll with your loved ones? Well for the men of 4 & 6 Troop, who have been cooped up in a little base no bigger than the dance floor at Mangos night club since the end of December, the opportunity to relax is limited as the focus here is entirely on the big bridge we are building across the NEB Canal. We do not have the luxuries and amenities of Camp Bastion, which as Capt ‘Cappuccino’ Cameron would attest to, are pretty good with a Pizza Hut, shops and numerous coffee houses to attend. However when the option is there for a little ‘me’ or ‘you’ or even ‘us’ time; we spend it relaxing in some rather unique ways. As with all things we start with our illustrious leader: Lt ‘Avatar’ Tomsett; he chooses to while away the evenings walking around the bridge construction site. Nothing Trying to hide behind the relaxes him more than burns pit…. checking that the concrete is drying properly, that the rubbish is being disposed of efficiently or that every time one of us gets out of bed that we put on all our protective equipment: helmet, gloves, goggles, bombDo I look cool in this? proof underpants, etc. He tells us that he has a degree in engineering but we have a sweepstake as to what his real degree is in, currently the favourite to win is Spr ‘Bling’ Bingham’s guess – BA in Film Studies. Then we come to SSgt ‘Country Life’ Warren-Nicholls who stares out across the meandering Helmand River with a half-smile on his face, lost in his own thoughts. He often remarks how the banks of the river would make the perfect hunting ground for his spaniel (a cocker spaniel, which we are reliably informed is the new springer spaniel). Every time the Afghan National Army come out of their base, 400m down-stream, to shoot ducks, we can see the pain in his eyes; not in sorrow for the ducks but reticent of not having the opportunity to hunt his purebred spaniel – George. At this point you are probably starting to sympathise with our lack of modern means to relax but don’t worry, it is not that dire. Cpl ‘Harry’ Monks heads up our very own Nerd Academy. He and a handful of faithful followers have swallowed Apple’s great white lie: that an ipad is suitable for every situation. Like the rising and setting of the sun, as soon as the day’s work is done they head straight to the tent and crowd round the one and only heater. They play games, they connect, they wireless, they chat, all without uttering so much as a word. I don’t get the point of it all but Harry tells me that the interactive touch-pad technology helps to keep his skills up, his touch soft and gentle. He says that it is very important for when he gets back home to his wife. Like I said, I don’t get it!
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Pouring concrete to make parts for the Malvern bridge

Conversely there is the group of guys who prefer to relax by being a little more active and constructive. Spr ‘Stunning’ Dunning enjoys doing pull-ups, eating his bodyweight daily in protein powder and lifting random heavy objects. He has outgrown the very sparse selection of weights we have in the base so now he has started lifting bags of sand, bits of concrete, parts of the bridge and even people; all in the futile hope of one day looking like his hero Lou Ferigno, the original Incredible Hulk.
Hexi TV stood cooking dinner

LCpl ‘LP’ Leong Pong just spends all his spare time pottering about in the Troop G1098 store as if it were his own little garden shed, a man’s single place of solace. We are not too sure what he does in there, some say he services all the equipment we need, some say he is building a Transformer, some simply say he is the Stig! Then we have Spr ‘Roberto’ Burns-Muir who runs the best gentleman’s hair and moustache boutique this side of Iran. He spends his free time cutting and styling hair including facial hair. He really is very good; he can do any hairstyle you ask for: a bouffant, an afro, a mullet, even the windswept look. Oddly enough though all the different styles look exactly the same . . . short back and sides Tidying up? – the SSM would be proud!

We also have the unique character of Spr ‘G’ Jack-Campbell who enjoys relaxing in only one of two ways. He spends his time listening to hip-hop or, oddly enough, Kenny Rogers. When his i-pod’s battery is depleted he can be found practicing for his future career in politics. He will be engaged in debate with someone (anyone, it doesn’t matter who, just whoever he bumps into first) discussing the merits of living life according to the ‘survival of the fittest’ (he is not talking about physical fitness) or he is attempting to convince someone of how Tupac was the true driving force that put Barak Obama in the White House! Then we have the two Marlboro-men: Spr ‘Chadders’ Chadwick and Spr ‘Bradders’ Weston. They are a pure unfettered advertisement for tobacco companies across the globe. Every second of their free time is spent stood outside smoking cigarettes and talking about how to maximise their chances of impressing girls when they get back from tour. I don’t know much about impressing girls (yes ladies, you are in luck I am still single) but I do know that at the rate these two smoke fags, they better have a sponsorship deal with L&B otherwise they are not going to have a tour bonus to impress the ladies with in March.

Looking the part…...

As for me, what do I do to relax? You guessed it. . . I ‘people-watch’. I spend my time noticing how much pleasure Spr ‘Monster’ Honeyman takes from looking after us all, cooking our supper and generally acting like our dad, how Cpl ‘Mac’ McLaughlin talks tough in front of us but is still smitten and utterly devoted to his wife and two kids and how Capt ‘Lack of Personality’ Loots is hopelessly incapable of growing a moustache no matter how hard he tries. The Army truly does pull together individuals from all backgrounds and locations. We are all different; each with our own little idiosyncrasies but that is what makes it possible for us to live together in harsh conditions for such protracted lengths of time. Out here we learn more about each other than we do some of our family. It is our differences that make us great and I would not have it any other way.

Camera shy?

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From Afghan with love
WO2 (SSM) Hartwell

Paula, I love you more today than I did yesterday but not as much as I’ll love you tomorrow. My love for you grows stronger by the day. Can’t wait to be in your arms again. Love Hugs and Kisses xxxx Glenn

This message is for the love of my life, She is the world’s most perfect wife. As she reads this message she will see, It’s for you Sarah, My gorgeous Mrs B. Happy Valentines Day

Single and looking for love. So if you’re hot and you have low standards Age not important I’ll be coming home soon With a big fat……….Wallet.

To Hannah, not long now till leave, Thinking about all the good times, We had on R n R.

I love you with all my heart, through thick and thin Another year gone by. Just makes us stronger Happy Valentines Day Love You

To Kerry, not long now only 8 weeks, miss you loads

Nicole, Happy Valentines day sweetheart,. 7 years together and still going strong. I love you so much MWAHIO

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It was either write this or go on stag – Happy Valentines day boys!

To all the single girls back home who have low standards, I’m your man! Happy Valentines Day xxxxxxxxxxxxxx To my gorgeous girlfriend Amii, Happy Valentines Day, I’m sorry I can’t be there with you. Times the stars in the sky by the fish in the sea. That’s how much I love you. P.S. Leave Leroy alone today please xxxxxxx Sandra, Even though we are miles apart. It helps to know we are sleeping under the same big sky. Somewhere out there, where love can see us through. Miss you loads, see you soon…. Iain

To my fiancée Sarah, it won’t be long now until I am home for good and I can make you my wife. I can’t wait to be with you every day instead of weekends and holidays. Thank you for saying ‘yes’. Hugo xxx
Capt Cameron

Happy Valentines to my gorgeous girlfriend Jo, For once we get to spend it together and I can’t wait! All my love, Kevan x
SSgt Owen

To my soul mate, Happy Valentines all my love and get the champagne on ice. See you soon xxx Love you all the muchies “Tes, ek hoop jy het n wonderlikke Valentyns dag al is dit sonder my. Ek wens kon saam jou gewees het, maar ek sal verseker opmaak daar voor as ek terug by jou is oor 5 weke. En as jy n verskriklikke groot bos blomme kry, is dit van my af. Lief jou soos die see Jou man Hello Budi, Happy Valentines day sundari…and k chha yaha mero sathi haru le msg pathaune mauka milako le garda chance ma dance gareko. Dherai dherai maya and samjhana timi lai ani chhora lai..sab kuch thik hai. Timro T

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37 Armoured Engineer Squadron
Officer Commanding’s Foreword 37 Armoured Engineer Sqn Second in Commands Foreword
Yes it’s true we have finally let our illustrious leader Kim Jong Boxall go on leave and I have been masquerading as the Officer Commanding. Obviously I have been able to do the OC’s job and my own standing on my head! (see picture) To be honest the OC was getting in the way a bit so we sent him home to see Rachel would be prepared to put up with him for a couple of weeks. Sadly he is back tomorrow so we’ve had to round everyone up from the coffee shop and put our uniforms back on! If anything the last two weeks have been the busiest of the whole tour and the guys and gals have been working extremely hard.


7 Tp have conducted an expeditionary build of a new Cp in the middle of the green zone, with helicopter insertions and lots of manual labour – which you can read about below. This was an excellent job which received high praise from all the infantry who worked with Cpl Barrie Doran-Thorp and his boys. 8 Tp have finished the biggest build we will do all tour, upgrading a base from a small patrol base to a major company location. This task has consumed them for a month or more and is now thankfully finished. 9 Tp have continued to provide security to one of Helmand’s major routes by installing force protection to protect the infantry when they are patrolling. Finally of course I must mention the Armoured Support Group who have done a vast array of jobs from demolishing old enemy firing points to clearing safe routes for the infantry, on their final operation in Afghanistan. The Trojan armoured vehicle has really proved its worth and is suddenly in high demand. A testament to the hard work of Sgt Fraz Weatherston and SSgt ‘Panzers’ Scott and the reputation they have carved out for their team. Back in Bastion we have started to focus on the hand over preparation for the incoming Squadron and the G4 department, under their leader Capt Joe Monaghan and SQMS Dickie Page, have just passed the in theatre inspections with flying colours. Top stuff! I leave you with best wishes for the last few weeks of our tour and hope to see as many of you as possible on the medals parade. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to write lots and lots of pages of notes for the OC and make it look like I have been working hard in his absence… now where did I put my boots….. Cpl Foden, have you seen my razor blade?….. oh and we had better take these Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts off… no seriously get rid of the play station from the ops room…. Dominic Riley
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Op Tufaan Tamba
By Cpl Doran-Thorp 7 Troop
Operation Tufan Tamba was an operation to build a new checkpoint in a local compound near FOB Khar Nika. What this meant for us engineers was to provide support by constructing firing platforms and basic toilets and showers for the Ghurkas that would be in-habiting the compound. With this in mind the Infantry soldiers of D Company set out for the helicopter landing site at 0425 ready to put boots on the ground whilst it was still dark. Amongst them, 4 sleepy eyed Engineers sat and waited with their stores for the helicopter (helo) to arrive. After the first helicopter took the securing force, and after a brief moment, was gone into the dark skies above, it was our turn to board. Eventually our taxi arrived and we were airborne and on our way to a farmers’ field. The two helo’s landed in unison and we fanned out in all round defence until the helicopters had taken off. From there we made our way towards the compound in question. What would’ve been a fairly straight forward and boring patrol soon became a source of amusement for the accompanying Ghurka riflemen as they laughed at the 4 Engineers with their makeshift stretcher laden with stores slipping and sliding through the mud in the field. Sappers Pete Broxton and Tom Ashby putting on a particularly good show as they both did forward rolls into the same irrigation ditch and covering themselves from head to toe in mud, not quite CSE (Combined Services Entertainment) show material but funny all the same! Once inside the compound we quickly set about reinforcing the compound with sandbags and providing makeshift firing platforms with the ladders we’d bought with us. From then it was a case of either fill sandbags or provide manpower for stag duties and so we Engineers ensured we had a shovel glued to our hands for the entire day, something that we would be getting used to for the next 4 days as stores steadily arrived via quad bike and helicopter. In between receiving rations, water and the essentials we also received the rest of the Engineer stores so we could begin making the compound habitable, and so began the feverish hustle and bustle to get showers, toilets and various other amenities constructed as quickly as possible. While the rest of us were busy inside the compound, Sapper Tom Ashby was roaming around just outside with his infantry escort creating havoc. Once the infantry realised that he had a chainsaw and not an axe to chop down the 22 trees that they originally had asked for he was suddenly deforesting half of the green zone. Within 4 days of arriving at a simple mud walled compound it was time to leave the now named Checkpoint Dahli Laili and with the infantry now living a lot more comfortably than when they first arrived. A job well done by all involved.

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The Final Hurdle at PB CLIFTON
By Spr Meacham 8 Troop
Another month in 8 Troop passes as the burns pit is inevitably moved again, this time actually inside the camp (rather than outside on top of a UXO pit). With less than a month to push, for some, PB Clifton is one of the jobs that have proven to overwhelm us with a sense of achievement. The recent build of the briefing room was one, now you might think it is obvious what a briefing room is for, yes? No! A few (well… a whole infantry company) failed to understand this concept and interrupted a classic game of “Balderdash” by having a briefing in the welfare room. With the water point handed over and no electrician call sign, there has been a slightly relaxed lull in the work as we no longer have to:
 

Have in-depth conversations about local distribution units. Pretend that we care.

There is still micro maintenance to be done, however, such as crushed pipes (again interrupting Balderdash) which, as with everything else, non – Engineer call signs believe can be fixed with brown sniper tape and it seems a hammer! Other jobs we have been conducting consisted of resandbagging the HLS, levelling ancient HESCO baskets and reaggregating the whole camp during which a certain plant operator mechanic took great pride in borrowing a tractor from our sister squadron. 29 Sqn have proved useful more than once, lending us a Husky and an operator, even if there was – and still is – a used eco bag on the back (of the Husky, that is). Seriously …. gross! The driver being the self proclaimed “best driver innit” was an experience which we will thankfully never have to endure again once we get our replacement parts to fix our own Husky. I think his driving style is more suited to a rally track! With Check Point Echo being the last part of our main effort, there is a real sense of achievement within the troop. We now have the move to Hotel Rahim to look forward to, and the winterisation of CP Ricka. We are anticipating the end of an experience where I have learned that, regardless of the occasional ruthless hours, and the seemingly endless SOR’s, the boys of the mighty 8 Troop still know how to party!! The Meech out.

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OP JANGLE TROJAN (9 Troop with ASG attached)
By Spr Gibson
After stripping all the armour from the TROJAN and CRARRV vehicles (to make them light enough to cross the bridges over the River Helmand), we loaded them onto the HET vehicles and were transported north east to a desolate place known as FOB OULLETTE. The first small task for ASG at FOB OUELLETTE was to re-attach all the protective armour. 2 Days later and we were all ready to roll out the gate to make the Burma area safer for our troops on the ground and the local population. Our first mission was to clear the old CP BALA area of old Hesco, sand bags, razor wire and generally denying the area for enemy firing positions. Cpl 'Turk' Stevens’ TROJAN and his motley crew consisting of Spr 'Gibbo' Gibson and Spr 'Muscles' Atkinson, 2 REME CRAARVs with Sgt 'Al' Macmillan, Cpl 'Mash' Masshedar, LCpl 'Ads' Anderson and LCpl 'T' Taylor , and the HUSKY, with the rest of them non armoured lot, that is except for our leader - the infamous armoured legend which is SSgt Scott also known as the NIGHTHAWK, tracked up the 611 to our site. Once we broke track off the 611 the TROJAN took over. Plough down, we cleared a lane up to the objective, then started clearing a safe working area. We dragged all the old stores down to a safe area for another call sign to pick up at a later date. Meanwhile, the CRARRVs back bladed the area and made it look pretty! Until they uncovered a suspected IED. BRIMSTONE were called and after 6 hours, a lot of chin scratching, teeth sucking, and eventually a controlled explosion, later, the device was destroyed! So the TROJAN was re-tasked to CP SALAT to clear an area for 2 ISO containers to be recovered, job done. After a day of maintenance, ASG are ready to move again. The TROJAN, 1 CRARRV and the HUSKY are tasked to clear a bund under the safe protection of the 5 Rifles Warriors. Plough down, we ploughed a safe lane to the task, and an area big enough to work in. Now before any of you worry about the next bit - The Trojan is a heavily up-armoured vehicle which is designed to uncover and destroy mines and IEDs whilst ensuring that there is no danger what so ever to the crew or operators. Then we had a go at the bund. Plough down, BOOM, an IED detonates against the plough, safe inside our tank it feels like we have hit a small speed bump – we’ve uncovered and safely cleared our second IED since we left Camp Bastion. We reverse off and check we have a working plough, we carry on. BOOM, another IED detonates harmlessly against the plough, a second in as many minutes. Again, we reverse off, check all is good and carry on. Once we have a section of the area clear the CRARRV is called in to, again, make it look pretty (their very tidy these REME boys!) The TROJAN attacks the right hand side of the bund, BOOM the plough takes out another IED. This is getting frustrating at this point, but if nothing else, it gives us all confidence in our tanks abilities and just how damn safe it is! Our 3rd strike of the day. After we finish we also discover that the plough has pushed a further 5 IEDs to the side of the cleared track which are safely disposed off by the Counter IED lads. Damn our tanks are good!

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SSgt 'Scotty' Scott calls it a day and ASG return to OUELLETTE. 9 Troop welcome us back for tea and medals, thankful that the TROJAN has come to their AO and cleared areas for them to safely work. They all wish they were armoured! ASG now move out to HAZRAT.

TROJAN in all its glory

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By Spr Tommo Thompson
On the 28th of January 2012, we were tasked with putting in a new barrier outside FOB OUELLETTE. You would imagine that this would be an easy task, but what happens to Vehicle drivers in the BURMA AO? They always manage to drive into gates and other stationary objects for no apparent reason. So that our work would not be wrecked when we left site, we tried a different approach. To achieve this we needed to build 2 wooden boxes (0.9m x 1m), which would then hold both parts of the barrier. The wooden boxes also had to be reinforced because they needed to hold 820 litres of concrete. The boxes were built by civvy chippie Spr 'Phil' Mitchell which were to a high quality standard (as usual). – even the Warriors (an armoured infantry personnel carrier) couldn’t miss these and knock into them. Once the boxes were in place we then had to get the barriers in (each weighing 350 kg), we also had to have 350mm clearance on the bottom for the barrier to rest on. When they were in position, the concreting commenced with the mixture of 1:2:4 cement, sand, aggregate and a steady flow of water. With the music blaring, Britney Spears Oops I did it again, the concreting team, which consisted of, Spr 'Jay' Redshaw, Spr Cooper, Spr 'Jimmy' Peace and myself ,swooped into action whilst LCpl 'Easy' Lay knocked up the re-bar to go inside the boxes. It took us a few mixes to get the right consistency for the mixture, but once we had that cracked, the rest was child’s play. We had to keep on top of cleaning the cement mixer as it double’s up as our washing machine – life is hard in a forward location – cue sympathy from the ladies…. No… worth a try!! As the cement was flowing we also had to ensure that we got all the air bubbles out of the mixture. We had no vibrating poker, which gave us all a good arm work out. Both boxes took around a day and a half. Task complete we just have to place them into position, after they dry of course. PS it’s not just 29 Sqn that pours concrete on tour!

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By the Quartermaster
Well, the time had to come; at some stage he was going to get caught in his own net and what a catch it was. Cpl Karma Rai was the instigator, designer and referee of ‘The Iron Man’ competition which all of 37 Armd Engr Sqn takes part in prior to jumping on the R&R escalator. After the ‘Iron Man’ events and course were sculpted to create maximum pain, whilst being designed in the relative comfort (body-armour-free) of 35-45°C back in Sep, it was now Karma’s turn to show us how it should be done. He had clearly planned ‘The Iron Man’ without any thought to when he might take his R&R, because the time and weather didn’t really compute or weren’t as big a concern as they should have been, maybe. The two days leading up to Karma’s R&R were full of normal smiles, giggles and announcements of how many hours were left until his ‘freedom bird’ (plane home) left for civilisation as we know it. However, everyone else’s minds were fixed on the jobs here, what was happening now and that it had been freezing temperatures and hammering down with rain for the past 3 days. It was the day before Karma’s ‘Iron Man’ when I placed the circumstances together for him, i.e. the freezing rain, 3” deep mud and his ‘Iron Man’ challenge. His face was a picture! Oh the joy. I never thought there would be so many spectators, but they came from miles around to watch him wallow in the freezing mud, blood and tears that were all his.

Happy as a Sapper in muck

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Just before the start of his ‘Iron Man’ challenge, his ‘freedom bird’ seemed so close however, about the 35th Hesco jump when he was sweating and his Just one gruelling part of the legs were going into in37challenge voluntary spasms, it seemed so desperately far away. He could see the flight line and smell the aircraft fuel which he would have been able taste if it weren’t for the fresh taste of his vomit in his throat. On the quad bike (and trailer) pull, time and weight were taking its toll on every part of his body. The blood from his scuffed knuckles and grazed chin where he had slipped and slammed into the ground so many times curdled with the 3” of freezing mud and slurry as he strived to drag the quad’ across the quagmire course. Well, enough of that pretending we care about a bit of mud and scuffs. Never mind hey! Chinny up Karma; should have applied a bit more thought in the design and planning phases, hey? People in glass houses and all that…as well as many more of those cracking clichés spring to mind now. Enjoy the kip on the flight, coz you’ll need it. Ha -ha! Anyway, everyone else is left back and forward sorting ‘G4 stuff’ for the coming inspections which are making time fly by at the moment. Ok, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m trying to pull a few positive points out of the queue of external inspections that break up the tour like date line trip wires. There’s still plenty to do; a long way to go and several guys to welcome back from R&R with a cheer. Each R&R return flight is a step closer to everyone’s ‘freedom bird’. However, every day in every tour is extremely important and tough in many different ways, which is why everyone remains focussed all the way in to the finish line.

It is going to be difficult to pull from down there

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Officer Commanding’s Foreword

Greetings to you all from the HQ Sqn here in Bastion. As you can see The OC is not producing this forward as he is taking some well earned R & R in Germany with his family. The down side of this is that you will have to put up with my ramblings this time around. The up side is I am better looking. The majority of the Sqn have been on their R& R spending some well deserved time with family and friend returning to a tempo that has not relinquished at all. A fair bit has been happening since we last published and the members of the Sqn have been extremely busy. The Force Protection Multiple have been out and about throughout the Southern Helmand Province the CSC have continued their designs and recces in support of the current operations and the Resources and QMs’ depts have continued to ensure that the right kit and equipment gets to the right place in time. The Assisting Superintending Officers (ASO) have continued to give sound advice to the contractors that are employed to construct many of the fixed facilities throughout the Southern Helmand Province. It is these guys that I am going to concentrate on this time round. The ASOs are the eyes on the ground, ensuring that any and all construction under civilian contract is carried out to the exact standards required. This is a thankless task at the best of times however some of these guys are living in some austere locations with fellow coalition partners, sometimes with limited welfare facilities. Daily they patrol forward to the construction location and supervise these projects and then patrol back to write up their reports and recommendations. Some of the contracts are focused inside more perminant locations such as Camp Bastion and Laskar Gah, where new dining facilities and constructions on the flight line are popping up. The HQ Sqn provides six of these ASOs with a further four coming from the wider Regtl Gp. The six that we provide are a mixed group of trades from a military plant operator to a civilian self employed electrician, mobilised through the TA for this tour. They are all JNCOs with little or no previous experience of this kind of work, however you would not know this when you see the results they have achieved. They are another group of our soldiers that uphold the high standards of the Corps and the Regt by just getting on and doing a very important and thoroughly worthwhile job. Well done. The HQ Sqn now move into what is the final stage of the tour part of which is preparation for, and ensuring that the handover to our successors is a smooth one, however our eye has not been taken off the ball and we as a Sqn push on as normal in support of the Regts current operations. Finally I would like to pass on the anther big thank you of from all the HQ Sqn to the families, partners, friends and members of the HQ Sqn ROG for your continued support and best wishes. These are well received by everyone. Remember every day away is a day closer to seeing you all again. Andy Kerr
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Hey kids. Me again and I can say that the weather has changed again since my last blog to you. It will not make its mind up as the mornings start cold and as the sun rises it warms up. However come the night time the cold returns. Hopefully as we get closer to the end of the to tour the weather will get warmer.

For this blog we want to send a special thank you to all the families, partners and friends of the HQ Sqn for the support you have all shown during the tour so far. Although the attached poster doesn’t have everyone's photo on it the thoughts of us all go with it. THANK YOU ALL

Thank you to all our wives, partners, families and friend from those serving with Headquarters and Support Squadron Royal Engineers

Op HERRICK 15 Sep 11- Mar 12
Remember every day away is a day closer to seeing you
Ellie out

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The end of tour is fast approaching. There is going to be a lot of different things to think about once back in Barker Barracks. Here is a reminder of some of the things you will need to consider.

PERSONAL ACCIDENT INSURANCE (PAX) You may want to consider lowering your PAX when you return to your unit. It is still recommended that you keep some units of PAX. Remember – PAX is not just for Theatre, it is for both on and off duty. Speak with your HR Admin staff who will help you complete the necessary forms. ID CARD & ID DISCS You will have been told enough times about ID Cards in theatre! As we are approaching the end of tour, the window for getting a replacement one to theatre becomes smaller. Although checks are conducted regarding the serviceability of your ID Card, if you feel your ID Card warrants being replaced, speak to your HR Admin Staff. If you require a picture change on your ID Card, you need to supply a passport-sized photo to your HR Admin Staff. If you require new ID Discs due to loss or a change of details, speak with your HR Admin staff who will indent for a new set for you. Do be forthcoming about a loss of ID Discs, no discipline action takes place for this! It is a factor of being out on operations that items go missing, and ID Discs are no different! ADVENTURE TRAINING (AT) You will need to speak with the Expedition Officer regarding payment for your AT. Payments for the AT are either via your Mess Bill (Officers, SNCOs and JNCOs only) or via the Regimental Accountant – Cheques are to be given to the respective Expedition Officers. Cheques are to be made out to the following: ‘CENTRAL BANK 35 ENGR REGT’ with your Service Number, Rank, Name and AT you are conducting on the back of the cheque. TRAVEL Now that we know the dates of the Post Operational Leave (POL), it is highly recommended that you start looking at your travel now. It is best to book now for the cheapest deals (yes, I am a tight Northerner!) It is worth noting that if eligible, you will be able to use your Get You Home (Overseas) (GYH(O)) for your travel. Speak to your HR Admin Staff who will provide you with more information on this. PASSPORT All personnel will have deployed on Op HERRICK with a valid passport. On return, some passports may be approaching their expiry date within the next 12 months. See your HR Admin Staff who will apply for your new passport. For families of service personnel, you will need to liaise with the Welfare Office. Remember, it’s free! BANK DETAILS & ALLOTMENTS You may have changed your bank allotments to your secondary bank account while you have been on tour, it would be worth considering changing this back prior to going on R&R. Speak to your HR Admin Staff when you return to your unit. If you want the change to take effect prior to returning from Afghanistan, you need to see your HR Admin Staff before the 8 th March. If you decide to wait until you return from Afghanistan, please be aware that the change will not take effect until the end of April. MAIL
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77 TALISMAN SQUADRON NEWS Squadron Sergeant Major’s Foreword
As the OC has literally just arrived back from R&R, I thought I would take the chance to write the foreword for this edition. When I say take the chance, I actually think I was volunteered! However, as I am never normally short of something to shout about (well, it is my job!) I am pleased to put pen to paper for what will be the 4th to last edition of the Trojan Times. Boo hiss, I hear you all say, but all good things must come to an end and I’m sure you would rather see us all on our return than read another edition! The past couple of weeks have been fairly quiet on the TALISMAN front, with only 6 Ops. This is in stark contrast to November and December where we worked almost to capacity. The weather has also turned for the worse and we have a couple of articles showing the effects of winter in Afghanistan. To be honest, up to the time I write, the weather has been kind and we have been lucky. That said, I am amazed how we can get wet INSIDE a tent! The normal rules of the weather do not apply to Helmand and I’m sure I have probably spoken too soon! We have also hosted the Talisman Training and Advisory Team this week who will take away the recommendations we have passed on, to help make the training for the next TALISMAN Sqn more theatre relevant. We have also had an excellent Sqn games night, organised by Capt Andy Bostock. Some of the events were a sight to behold but lots of fun was had by everyone who took part. The tour continues to go at a decent pace and we can now comfortably say that it is the end of tour next month. The last batch of well-earned R&R will be almost at the end during the publication of this edition so the deployed elements of the Sqn will be all together in Afghanistan for the first time since early November. I’m sure you have all had the chance to look at the Homecoming Week information that has been sent out by the RSM, and possibly made some plans. This is part of the ‘normalisation’ period that is mandatory after returning from tour and should prove to be lots of fun, with the opportunity to catch breath and spend time with our loved ones. I understand that not every member of the wider Talisman family will be able to make it to the events in Germany, but I promise we will ensure they don’t get too drunk! On behalf of everyone in the Squadron, thank you for ever continuing support. Without your love and affection, the tour would seem to be a lot longer than 6 months! Take care and see you all soon.

Jim Blower (aged 39)
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And then the floods came…….
By LCpl Craig Smith, 10 Tp
On the 21th of January, 77 TALISMAN Sqn faced a new enemy in Afghanistan - the rain! It started like any other day, a few clouds in the sky and nothing to be worried about. Morale was high, the vehicles were prepared for the next Op and, as it was Saturday, most people were allowing themselves to daydream and look forward to having a lay in on Sunday morning. Despite the briefings about the weather warnings, everyone was confident it would just be a shower. How wrong we were! The clouds started thickening and shortly after lunch the heavens began to fall. Morale started to drop slowly as most people took shelter in their rooms thinking they would be safe. But oh no, water began rising from the floor. It started in the tent corridors, and then rapidly spread to the tents . Drastically, something had to be done. The lads were wearing swim gear or gortex, and for a few a mixture of the two. As the tents are surrounded by blast walls, the water had nowhere to go. So, like the 7 dwarfs (ok – only Spr ‘Mad Dog’ Maddocks is small enough to fit into that category!), with a shovel and a pick, they began to dig an elaborate trench system to divert the water. Several hours later, with no let up in the rain, the rising water slowly and surely began to flow away, saving the day (and lots of blokes kit as well!). An interesting afternoon in Helmand and not a typical Saturday!

Just singing (and digging) in the rain

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RSOI Range Refurbishment
by Spr ‘Dad’s Bag’ Knowlson 10 Tp
LCpl Mike Molloy and I were given a plant task to do at the RSOI range (O’Brien 1 range). It involved removing old target boxes and replacing with new. LCpl Molloy went down to carry out a recce (have a look at!) a few days before we started. After looking at it, Mike was heard to say ‘no problem – only a couple of hours work’! The job was initially meant to be a straight forward task of removing and replacing the target mount boxes, and levelling the range, however the weather decided it would become a much bigger task. The morning the task started, LCpl Mike Molloy, Spr Skippy Morris and I encountered a major problem which turned a simple job into a something a little bigger! Our faces dropped when we noticed the range was now a lake. Due to heavy downpour and no drainage on the range, the bunds of earth that surround the range for protection against the bullets fired into them trapped the water from flowing downhill off the range. On the plus side, the rain came before we installed the new target mount boxes as they would have been ruined by the flood and would have had to remove and replace them resulting in further cost. A foot and a half deep in places we knew it was no longer a quick job. We tried to get a I do not think you will catch LWT (Light Wheeled Tractor) due to it being a lot lighter and wouldn’t any fish there? sink or tear the ground up as much. Unable to get one we used the HMEE (High Mobility Engineering Excavator). Myself Engineers to the rescue and LCpl Molloy began to dig a trench up the right hand side of the range to attempt to drain the majority of the water. SSgt Pat Warren decided to pay us a visit after having heard about the problems we had with the task. After SSgt Warren had seen the range, the decision was made to pump the ‘lake’ straight over the top of the back bund and towards the perimeter fence. SSgt Warren took Skippy with him to the resources yard to get a pump and a generator. An hour later we had the pump and generator. Once it was set up we took turns in stagging on to ensure it was pumping the water out and the generator didn’t cut out. It took three days to drain the water away to the limit of the pump. Ground works were carried out to reinstate the range, and prevent further closure. This is a well used and important range, so time was of the essence. After some advice by SSgt Warren and the SSM, the WO2 who was in charge of the ranges decided to get a drainage system installed but thanked us for the big help we gave him.

Knee high in water - again! Page 23

The Hurt Locker
by Capt Mike Barrett 11 Tp Commander
On a cold Saturday morning on the 28th January 4 members of the Squadron lined up to take part in the Camp BASTION Hurt Locker Challenge organised by one of the Royal Artillery Batteries. The challenge involved six events back to back involving tyre flips, burpees, squats, a 25kg Bergen and lots of sandbags and jerry cans with the quickest overall time taking the win, simples. Despite our heats being later on during the day we thought we’d hang around for a bit and watch the first guys go through the heat. The first casualty happened within a minute as one I bet Capt Bostock found this contender had to be event easy………. carried off the course after being defeated by the Husky tyre flip. The next contender dropped out after the sandbag carry. There were a lot of nervous gulps from the crowd and 77’s competitors as we realised what we had signed up for. However that was nothing compared to the shock for Capt “100% Strike Rate” Bostock who realised he had been signed up while he was having another lie in! As the day went on all of TALISMAN’s entrants put in a good performance particularly Cpl “Yaz” Yaravoli who put in an excellent sprint finish to win his heat in typical Yaz style. By this time a few spectators had arrived from other Sqns who blamed their lack of work on the computer network being down however it was more than likely they were drawn in admiration of TALISMAN’s efforts. After lunch, there Feel the burn……. were only a couple of heats left and first up was Spr Cockcroft who put in a solid performance from someone who only decided to sign up the night before. Next up was myself and LCpl Podmore who unfortunately had to retire due to a knee injury just before the 25kg Bergen run. Last up was Capt Bostock who by Making it look easy this time was slightly nervous and had made several trips to the toilet.
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Luckily for him Capt Dom Riley (2ic 37 Sqn) had decided he would take part as well in true wingman style. As they both lined up a sizeable crowd had started to form. Many of Capt Bostock’s friends from the CSLR including the Ops officer had turned out to offer him some support and carry him home if required. Both put in a good performance even with a few tears shed by both competitors at various stages.

Still making it look easy………..what was all the fuss about?

Overall despite the back breaking effort and pain it was an excellent event and a good distraction from the G4 War that is being fought at the moment by TALISMAN. The next Hurt Locker will be held towards the end of tour and I highly recommend it to anyone Bastion based.

Last event with encouragement Page 25

Digging in the rain
12 Troop
The 21st January 2012 was a fateful day for those in my Pod. It was the day that the rain, which was meant to characterise January, finally arrived in Bastion. When the rain started we were already back in our pods relaxing. We heard the first sounds of rain on the tent and all thought to ourselves how glad we were to be in a nice dry tent in Bastion. However, the rain continued and continued, until suddenly we were aware of water beginning to surface through the floor matting in our tent. Not a problem, being resourceful, we decided to put cardboard over the little puddles that were forming and we started to laugh about it as usual seeing the funny side of it. After a couple more hours the puddles had spread into the majority of the tent. Outside it was still raining and by now the initial cardboard put down was covered by water, so we put more down. The flooding continued to get worse. Walking outside of the pod the problem was instantly apparent as the drainage system was over flowing and as a resulting flooding the ground around it. So the route proving and clearing Sappers of TALISMAN swapped their search equipment for a traditional spade, donned their gortex and started to dig some trenches to relieve the overflowing drainage ditches. LCpl Sparks, jumping at the chance to do some digging, hopped into his HMEE and used it to dig a longer trench aiding the spade wielding Sappers. Despite the combined efforts outside, when Not looking too impressed we came with the weather back to the room it was officially flooded, but all our kit was already off the floor and it would be bearable for the night. When we woke up the next morning and got out of bed the water was up to my ankles and reached to the other side of the tent to where LCpl Sparks was. First on the agenda was to strip out the pod and to brush all the water out of the room before building platforms on which we placed our bed spaces upon. The room is back to normal now, however two things stand out from that night, the first was seeing Cpl Taylor’s flip flops float by LBdr Davies bed space which had everyone in fits of laughter. Secondly, never get civilians to build a camp, instead leave it up to the professionals in the Corps of Royal Engineers (and this is written by a Royal Artillery cap-badged bloke!).

Soaked to the bone

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Almost there!
By Cfn ‘Poppet’ Wainwright

The last media article I wrote was in the first month of our operational tour. Now I am writing one with a little over a month left. Although some days seem to last forever, as a whole, the time has whizzed by and left a bit of a blur in its place. Tea anyone? Since I last wrote the fitter section has undergone many changes. Our civilian contractor Greg has left and been replaced by Bob, who is much better at darts, which is posing a bit of a problem. We have also had a manpower reshuffle with Cfn Sean ‘sharpshooter’ Mellam leaving, being replaced by Cfn ‘I’m from Leeds me’ Barnes. He had obviously heard of the Talisman fitter section’s increasingly amazing reputation around Helmand and wanted a piece of the glory. I personally held his hand on his first Op for Talisman and, with a bit of fine tuning, I think he could make the cut, but I’m making no promises! It’s good to see the progress we are making during this operational tour. For example Cpl Costigan has hit his first 180, which is a massive improvement considering he was lucky to hit the board at the start. LCpl Craig Walker is also coming on leaps and bounds as he can now place an order on Amazon within 34 seconds, smashing his previous record of 1 min 26 and Sgt Aly Logan was actually spotted making a brew!! So the proof is in the pudding that we are all improving dramatically. It’s nearly Valentine’s Day; at least I have a genuine reason for forgetting the flowers and chocolates. Everybody’s morale seems to be quite high. I think that is because the toilet cleaning schedule I’m using as a chuff chart is in its last full month. We had a flood recently. People ridiculed me when I bought my airbed, but I was the only one floating. So although the end is in sight, it’s not quite here, and we shall remain focused and keep working hard. With a bit more practice I will hit that all illusive 180.

Good job he is wearing eye protection...

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With love from Afghanistan
Sgt “Bizzle” Betts To all the people not celebrating Valentine’s Day, have fun in Mangos! Spr “Youth” Franks To Emma If Carlsberg made wives, they’d probably make you! Happy Valentine’s Day can’t wait to see you again Love Daemon xx

Spr “Stoney” Stone To Louise Loving you is easy, Coz your things are new. Happy Valentines. Love Stoney

Cpl “Chuckie” Gallears To my Irish Flower, MY WY NY LY always x Carl x

LCpl “Goose” Vassallo-Coetzer To Debbie Happy Valentine’s Day babes! Happy B-day for the 16th as well! Wish I was there to share it with you. See you soon, miss you. Love from Gustav

SSgt Andy Williams Babes, Can’t wait to be back with you, not long now. Happy Valentines, love and miss you always Andy x

Spr “Maddog” Maddocks Roses are red Violets are blue Can’t wait to get home So I can

Lt “Frodo” Stretton Dear Kat, Miss you lots. Sorry I can’t be with you on Valentine’s Day.

LCpl “Jeeves” Butler To someone’s Daughter I want to be Your Valentine... Oh precious oh precious please be mine I want to be your Valentine I’ll do anything to be your rose I want to be the Valentine you chose Hold my hand and don’t let go Open your heart and feel our love grow Lock me in your heart just for a day Feeling your love while reality fades away I’ll wait year after year Crying and sobbing tear after tear Oh precious oh precious please be mine I want to be your Valentine!

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u an yo og o f iL g Al kin t, gt hin ear Ali. S t th e, ys ee ov wa sw of l Al ts Lo

Cfn Barnsey Barnes To all those in the LAD on Rear Ops, thinking of you all. Love the Talisman Fitters.

Sgt Eddie Edwards Mel, I miss you more everyday. Not long left now. Hope you have a great day. We will celebrate it when I get back.

Sgt Bruce Terris To my darling wife Claire, Hope you had a good Valentine’s Day. When I get back, I’ll take you out for a wee bottle of wine. Love you, Bruce.

Cpl Chris Costigan Natascha, Love and miss you loads, sorry I cant be there for our anniversary.

Spr “Dickie” Day Loo Loo We give on this day chocolate and flowers, But we never stop to say thank you for the many hours. You have stood by my side and gave a smile, As if to tell our hearts it's been worth every mile. No need to buy a teddy bear or even a card, It's pretty simple and not at all hard. Just put your arms around me and hold me tight, And say without words that in your heart all is right. You may say I Love You throughout the year, But on this day you need to make sure. The words so sweet and straight from your heart, That your life would be lonely without my part. So put forth the effort and take the time, Look me in the eye and say I'm glad you're mine. Spr “H” Harrison To Stacy Happy Valentine’s Day, Missing you millions babe! Hope you have a good day. We will celebrate when I’m home. Love Phil xxx

Cfn Poppet Wainwright Love you loads Lois, Not long now until we are sipping cocktails in Miami. Love from your dear little Poppet.

SSgt John Braithwaite You’re still as young, fresh and beautiful as the day I met you. Always have and always will love you.

WO2 Jim Blower (SSM) When we are together, the moments I cherish. With every beat of my heart, To touch you, to hold you, to feel you, to need you, There’s nothing to keep us apart! You’re once, twice, three times a lady, And I love you! Love you always babes, Jim x x x

SSgt Mick Shores To Tina Shores Happy Valentines Day. Love and miss you and see you soon. Love Mick

Capt Rob Meakins, Sqn QM To my gorgeous wife Charlotte, Yes, there is romance in this old dog yet! Happy Valentines Day. All my love as always, Rxxx

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Who is your Valentine? Cut this out and give it to them on the 14th of February!

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This week in the Toe Jam Times we catch up with Capt Anthony Gleave to find out what it is like to work as the Battle Group Engineer. After I finally drag Capt Gleave out of his air conditioned tent, he kindly agrees to give me a quick run down of the life of the Battle Group Engineer (BGE), what he gets up to on a daily basis and how he fits into the confusing world of abbreviations and sand. So Capt Gleave, what is a BGE? Firstly, let me start by explaining the job of a BGE. The BGE is essentially the spy within the Battle Groups (BG) that the Squadron (Sqn) works to. I find out all the juicy details of what they are planning and work out how best to massage the engineer plan in to assist both the BG and the Sqn. There has to be a relatively quick turn around of information on my part. I will brief up the OC who will in turn devise a plan of attack and brief up the troops accordingly. My job then starts with planning the Engr task into the BG plan, this is vital to ensure the BG provide the heavy weapons and overwatch to make certain our Sappers are as safe as possible. There are a whole host of staff in the BG HQ who range from IED advisors to media and messaging. And what is the role of a BGE? Essentially I coordinate all the activity around the Lashkar Gah Area of Operations. I am the Engr spy within the BG, I find out what they are planning at the earliest opportunity and then run home to Mum & Dad (the 2IC & OC). That way Mum and Dad can then work out the best way to assist the battle group to achieve what they want to do (keeping up with the Jones’s). How does this all fit into the bigger Engr picture? As well as telling Mum and Dad what’s going on so they can keep up with the Jones’ I also have to keep up with what the Grandparents are up to in Regimental Headquarters. Now they, like most Grandparents, are very needy. However, like most Grandparents I can get away with speaking to them a couple of times a week and just generally letting them know that I’m still there… It’s a bit of a give and take relationship, I give and well, they take. But all in all I find my way through the murky waters of Officer work to enable the Sappers on the ground to construct with (hopefully) as little friction as possible.
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Surprised by the lush gardens in Lashkar Gah

Tell me about a typical day for you 0634 alarm goes off, snooze for 5 minutes (8 times) and wake up at 0714 (0745 breakfast, 0800 office (tent), work, work, work, 1200 lunch, work, work, work, 1630 PT 1800 food, 1915 conference, 2030 conference, work, work, bed – start again! I do however, get a morning off on a Friday, the Afghan day of rest, and don’t have to be in the office until 0900. Oh how kind they are. I heard you managed to get a trip out…... I did manage to escape out of the wire in the beginning to the Afghan National Army’s domain in PB Jahan Zeb. It was quite interesting learning about the role of the British advisors who mentor the ANA Engrs and the various nuances that the British advisors have to face on a day to day basis. For instance, during a battle the Afghans will stop for lunch – they work to a completely different time frame to what we are used to. There is a definite culture divide and we are working to their culture and their ways. What has been the most interesting part of your tour so far? I would say the Comd’s orientation tour. I was able to grasp a thorough understanding of the various Check Points (CPs) and Patrol Bases (PBs) that the guys were living in on the front line. I quickly realised that there was some work to be done by the Engrs if the bases were to last the winter months, some of the men were living on their camp beds out under the stars. This is fine for the summer months but during the flash floods and extreme cold weather the winter brings it was apparent that some significant upgrading was required. It was fascinating to compare the different types of cooking appliances that have been created over time to assist with the ration pack boil-in-the-bag preparation not to mention the chicken cooking that was a delicacy of the various camp chefs. By chef, I’m referring to the married soldier in the camp; he’s about the only one with the culinary skills to prevent food poisoning. Travelling around Lash DC in an open top vehicle has its advantages. You get to have a real feel for the ground and a good understanding of the smell too. However, as I found out to my detriment it can also have its disadvantages. Whilst blissfully driving along through the DC waving at the locals and taking in the city I suddenly find myself under attack, not the type you’d expect though, no this was the cheeky children of LKG throwing stones for their amusement at the ISAF forces transiting through Throwing stones……….but the area. Very good they were too, they got one head they are so cute. shot, luckily on my helmet and one thigh shot before laughing and waving at me knowing that I would be gone and they could target the next poor victim.
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Lunch Afghan style

What are your notable achievements so far? My greatest achievements during the tour, aside from naming a road Manchester and another Moston, has been the coordination of two vital check point constructions and the transfer planning of Police Precinct 8. Both check points were constructed by the Sappers of 29 Armd Engr Sqn in record time. Cpl Monk’s Sect ensured their check point ceased the insurgents from using a vital resupply route whilst Cpl Abbot’s Sect built a check point in an insurgent hot bed to provide out reach protection to the local population. The ongoing task at the moment is the transfer of security from ISAF to the Afghan police in Babaji’s Police Precinct 8. My role in this is to work out the process and timeframes for the Hand Over of check points from ISAF to the Afghan Police. With them slowly taking over the check points it allows us to empower them to sustain their own security thus allowing us to lift off into a position of At Police Precinct 8 overwatch. It’s a slow process that started almost immediately at the start of my tour but it’s one that I have become most passionate about. It is this that will allow the Afghan forces to protect their own people and eventually allow us to lift off completely. So any final thoughts? So far the tour has been a success for me. The initial phase of it was quite turbulent but as soon as I settled into routine and worked out what I could/couldn’t do and of course what I could get away with, I soon settled into a steady rhythm. It has definitely been the most challenging job of my career to date managing all the moving parts and personalities to ensure the troops on the ground could construct without having to worry about the ‘other’ stuff. It has been a challenge that I have greatly enjoyed and I am now very much looking forward to the hand over of the 8th precinct to the police and of course coming back home to normality for a nice pint.

Five months in and still smiling

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Ranks Spr - Sapper LCpl - Lance Corporal Cpl - Corporal Sgt - Sergeant SSgt - Staff Sergeant WO2 - Warrant Officer Second Class WO1 - Warrant Officer First Class Lt - Lieutenant Capt - Captain Maj - Major Lt Col - Lieutenant Colonel Afghanistan specific terms Op - Operation, mission, task (not surgery) PB - Patrol Base CP - Check Point

Glossary Formations Sect - Section Tp - Troop Armd Engr Sqn - Armoured Engineer Squadron Fd Engr Sqn - Field Engineer Squadron Hq & Sp Sqn - Headquarters and Support Squadron

SANGAR - A watch tower which is manned 24 hours a day to provide protection to a base Stag - standing in the sangar keeping watch and providing protection JOB - Joint Operating Base FOB - Forward Operating Base NES (S) - Nahr-e Saraj South NES (N) - Nahr-e Saraj North NDA - Nad-e Ali TFH - Task Force Helmand ISAF - International Security Assistance Force ANSF - Afghanistan National Security Force ANA - Afghan National Army ANP - Afghan National Police IED - Improvised Explosive Device SAF - Small Arms Fire SOP - Standard Operating procedure
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HESCO - Large flat packed containers made of thick strong wire containing a large sandbag. The sandbag is filled with sand to produce a large protective brick. The individual HESCO blocks are then used like giant bricks to produce a protective wall for our bases. HLS - Helicopter Landing Site Barma - Our drill used to find Improvised Explosive Devices with a hand held metal detector. Equipment MASTIFF - Large armoured truck with a with a heavy machine gun for protection. TALISMAN - A series of vehicles used to clear a route of improvised explosive devices. HUSKY - Another type of large armoured vehicle. MWT - Medium wheeled tractor (dump truck). SLDT(P) - Self Loading Dump Truck (Protected) - A small dump truck. Apache - Ugly looking attack helicopter. Chinook - Large helicopter featured in the film Big Friendly Giant. Sea-king - Royal Navy helicopter used as search and rescue in the UK. Merlin - Medium to large Royal Air Force and Navy helicopter used to move Troops around from base to base. Messages from the Editor

We are nearly there, HERRICK 15 will shortly be coming to an end and 35 Engineer Regimental Group will be heading home. There will be lots of celebrations when we get home. The information about these celebrations can be found on ArmyNet linked to Facebook or alternatively all the information has been passed to your loved ones, so the next time they phone make sure you ask for all the information. Make sure you know what is happening where and when so that you can sit back relax and enjoy having your loved ones at home. If you hear any news about anything that might have happened in Afghanistan, which gives you cause for concern in any way, please get in touch with the Welfare Office on +495251101213. We will ensure that the team holds the most up to date and accurate information so that they will be able to advise you appropriately or deal with the issue. In the event of any casualties they will be able to clarify the situation, in accordance with the wishes of the individual or family. Many thanks

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