In a similar vein, we’ve just had the water fountain reconnected in our lovely gardens (the ones with the giant coliseum which can be seen from space). In a country with massive water shortages… we’ve spent taxpayers money ensuring that the fountain trickles nicely while we drink a cup of coffee at lunchtime. Meanwhile, if you walk down the road to the neighbouring US base, you will walk past a communal water pump at which you’ll see young children drinking from a communal cup. The locals, here in Afghanistan’s capital, don’t have a pumped water supply, and have to share from a central pump. We in the HQ (all of 200m away) have so much water to spare that we can use it in our garden fountains...
Other reminders that the HQ is in a strange place is the fact that we had an Earthquake the other night. We were about 150 miles from the epicentre (6.4 on the Richter scale), but the building still shook like crazy. To add insult to injury the locals decided that it would be great fun to fire a few rockets in our direction that night as well. Naturally the only greeting one could use the next day was ‘did the earth move for you too last night darling?’
Humphrey thought about the merits of posting the above (edited) email, but felt on balance that as it has been widely shared with friends, on ARRSE and also within a wider discussion provided to the Imperial War Museum as part of their Afghan recollections project, it was appropriate to provide it as an already public document, but it must be read in the context that not all HERRICK experiences are those seen on the TV – it should be seen very much as a cry of frustration by a very tired Officer during a difficult period , but also to understand the challenges of working in a complex operation. One should not read the frustrations of an email sent home to friends during this time as being any implicit criticism of policy by HM Govt or NATO as a whole, more as a sense of ‘letting off steam’ in the same way as we all do from time to time.
But, moving on from this, the points made above highlight that as we move towards transition, and away from combat operations, this sort of experience will be increasingly the norm for UK forces. Their roles will be far more about providing distant support and training to the Afghan Security Forces, or to assist with the preparation for withdrawal, which is a major logistical feat by itself. So, while it is inevitably frustrating for those troops who are deployed to find they will be away for longer, we do need to keep a sense of balance about what they will be doing, and the relative level of risk compared to earlier HERRICKS.
Are Defence cuts to blame?