Royal Irish soldiers build relationships in Helmand

As they begin their six-month tour in the Nad ‘Ali area of Hel­mand province, B Com­pa­ny of 1st Bat­tal­ion The Roy­al Irish Reg­i­ment have been build­ing rela­tion­ships with the local pop­u­la­tion and their Afghan Nation­al Army (ANA) part­ners.

The 1st Bat­tal­ion The Roy­al Irish Reg­i­ment Bat­tle Group recent­ly deployed to Hel­mand as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade and is for­ward mount­ed in patrol bases and check­points with­in the Nad ‘Ali area of the province.

As part of this, the B Com­pa­ny mul­ti­ple is based at Check Point Kamyab sup­port­ing an ANA Tolay (unit) pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty to the pop­u­la­tion of Char-e-Mirza.

This area of respon­si­bil­i­ty com­pris­es two vil­lages, Kakaran and Baluchan, and the more sparse­ly pop­u­lat­ed areas of Nazaran and Saidan.

The area itself is with­in the irri­gat­ed Green Zone, with fields grow­ing cot­ton, maize and peanuts sep­a­rat­ed by tree lines and irri­ga­tion and drainage ditch­es.

Reflect­ing on his expe­ri­ences so far Lieu­tenant Marc Bar­row, an offi­cer with B Com­pa­ny, said:

“Any ini­tial mis­con­cep­tions about the abil­i­ty and pro­fes­sion­al­ism of our Tolay were quick­ly put to bed.

“The ANA sol­diers with us are all very pro­fes­sion­al and take per­son­al pride in every task that they under­take. It is their peo­ple and they are respon­si­ble for their secu­ri­ty.”

The ANA and B Com­pa­ny have now start­ed a detailed human ter­rain map­ping pro­gramme, which has been very encour­ag­ing, enabling the time­ly shar­ing of infor­ma­tion about what is hap­pen­ing in the area.

The joint patrols approach com­pounds and farm­ers and have ‘mini-shuras’ with them, which allow them to gain infor­ma­tion, and pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty for the locals to inter­act with the ANA and ISAF troops.

Lieu­tenant Bar­row con­tin­ued:

“Nat­u­ral­ly the ANA are very adept in the local ter­rain, they under­stand the pop­u­lace and can iden­ti­ty eas­i­ly some­one not from the imme­di­ate vicin­i­ty. In fact they were the ones who men­tored us for the first few days of patrols. The hos­pi­tal­i­ty shown towards us has been fan­tas­tic, and the bonds between all ranks are quick­ly form­ing.

“The work we have been car­ry­ing out since the takeover has been var­ied. After the usu­al famil­iari­sa­tion patrols, we began reas­sur­ance patrols of Kakaran and Baluchan.

“The response from the locals, espe­cial­ly the kids, is great. They are will­ing to talk to the joint patrols open­ly and the chil­dren stop what­ev­er they are doing to prac­tise the few Eng­lish phras­es they know.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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