Our latest mission has been to go out with the Afghan National Army (ANA), to film and photograph them, as the ‘defining moment of operation Herrick 15’ would be their first major operation planned and executed by themselves to clear an area of Helmand from the influences of the insurgents.
Being the video guy, my job was to film them from the orders through the patrol phase, to watch them as they took over compounds and created, from scratch, their Check points in an area that insurgents had been deeply embedded in.
Say what you will about the ANA, they may lack an element of our professionalism, skill or ability, but when you consider that they are poorly paid, receive only a fraction of the training we get, are nowhere near equipped (by our standards), they do a fantastic job and in light of all this they are beyond doubt very brave indeed.
During this operation, they moved with all they needed to sleep rough across difficult terrain in freezing temperatures, which was tough indeed. They don’t get issued the warm or wet kit that we all get issued, and yet they just continue to work. The Afghans seem to work without complaint, they know what they need to do and they have a resolve to do what they need to, in order to rid their country of the enemy.
The ANA is a fledgling army, already growing to the required numbers, they know they have a tough job and continue to do their best to get it done, and they are proud.
Regardless of any shortcomings, I tip my hat to the Afghan braves and only hope that they gain the popular support of their countrymen because they above all deserve it and with it can begin to make the giant step towards peace, the likes of which has not been seen in this part of the world for decades.
These soldiers are going to be a big part of this countries future and every journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.