Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Day!!!!

ITS CHRISTMAS!!!! What did we do? How did it go?? Well with all things considered it was a good day after all we’ve still got a job to do and the insurgents won’t take the day off so we can celebrate… Christmas eve was spent on IRT after our platoon commander dropped a Moral destroying bomb shell! We’d been on Allenby guard for the 24 hours straight after Ritz gate, every one was in high spirits as we were going onto IRT then taking over mobiles 1 on the evening of Christmas day so the odds were high we’d have the evening to have our 2 cans and celebrate Christmas as best we could. Also we’d been informed that officers form DIV HQ had volunteered to take over all our guard taskings for 4 hours on Christmas day allowing the whole company a bit of time to have dinner, gather together for a few words from the OC etc etc…. But to dampen the mood the platoon commander informed us our half of the platoon, multiple Bravo were being tasked to go out on a patrol at 11pm Christmas night! And the other half of the platoon would have the evening off.... Hey thats life, some one had to go out and the best thing to do is "get it down your neck!" and get on with it! Well you can imagine how the mood went from there…. So Christmas Eve night we sat in the IRT room watching Harry Potter and waiting to be crashed out to an incident but gladly that didn’t happen! We had some crackers, sweets and Santa hats to entertain our selves even though the mood in some was more “bar hum bug “than “HO HO HO!” once Casualty came on the TV and everyone’s parents on the show seemed to be dying at the same time we decided to hit the sack! In the morning the door to the IRT room crashed open and my instant thought was “Bol**ks we’re being crashed!” but it was the OC and company sergeant major coming to bring us our Christmas morning “gun fire” (its tradition for the officers to bring soldiers tea with rum in to there beds on Christmas morning) The good thing was we then changed over and were on 12 hours rest, for once the rotation landed nicely! Once I’d got back to my room, showered, shaved, sorted myself out and opened up my presents my moral was tip top but some were still very “bar hum bug!” my theory is it might be shit but you have to make the best of what ever the situation is and to be fair over here it could be allot worse! Even though we’d been dicked for this patrol why not stick a smile on and enjoy yourself! But after trying to explain that a few times I gave up a mid the refusals to wear Santa hats as Christmas was canceled! and other people trying to convince each other they’re the more hard done by one…. I went of to use the phones, it would be 7am in the UK 10am here but as the rush later would be ridiculous I thought it best to try now. The rush later was big as some people had to wait an hour and a half but they had to wait as they wanted to speak to there children on Christmas day but for people like me without children its not so desperate, I would love nothing more than to speak to Beth, my mum and my brother on Christmas day but I’m sure they’d understand if I couldn’t get to the phone but if I had children I’d queue for and hour and a half. Any way the rest of the day was good me and Warner put up our decorations made a cup of tea, sat down and watched a film “The 40 year old virgin” whilst scoffing chocolates! To be fair a typical thing to do on Christmas day. Then the company had a sing song and Christmas dinner, all in all very festive all things considered! Now however its back to the job we’re just about to start getting ready to go out on our patrol and it hasn’t stopped raining all day! And it’s hammering it down now so the roads are going to be bad! As sand and water make mud and lots of it!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Ritz and Mr Blair.....

Next we have Ritz gate…. This is the first of the staging on tasks (stag is guard). When the my platoon come of mobiles 1 onto the Ritz gate we have normally been on a tasking in the day or early in the morning so it’s been a long day already. What do we do at Ritz gate? Ritz gate as I explained earlier is the only entrance to the military enclave for military personnel and any civilian employees/contractors. We have to search all locally employed civilians (LEC’s) that need to gain access to the enclave. A large amount of LEC’s work on the camp 100’s in fact so there’s allot of people to search in and out and all ID’s have to be checked. Ritz isn’t that bad as we have a fast change around from position to position so you get a change of scenery and I different face to chat with, well its going to be a different one out of the two possibilities! The only down side is it can get tiring depending what you’ve been doing with Mobiles 1 if you’ve been on the go for 3 days up at sparrow fart every day then out all day jumping straight into Ritz and staging on till the early hours of the morning then up again for the morning searching surge as the LEC’s pile into work. Bus loads come through and searching 52 LEC’s between 2 of you is a task some times, generally they are all cooperative but then you get some that aren’t so happy to help. I prime example is one guy yesterday I searched a whole bus load myself and then once I’d finished and Warner had given the inside of the bus a once over I told them all to get back on but then I clocked one guy sat on the bus pretending to be sleeping, leaning his head against his arms resting on the chair in front, I saw him look up and then get his head down again. So I stopped everyone getting on and gave the window a bang and beckoned him of the bus. He strolled of the bus his body language resembling something of Harry Enfields Kevin and Perry! I new he was trying to avoid the search probably because he couldn’t be bothered with it but at the same time in the whole scheme of things he could be avoiding it for a reason. I gave him the once over with the hoodlum (a hand held metal detector) and half way through that he tried to walk of so I grabbed him by the arm and turned him round and told him to pack it in! At the same time an English speaking LEC was telling him to pack it in, you can always tell the general gist of what’s being said by international language of body language. Because he was being awkward I then moved into a more thorough search which he wasn’t happy about and by this point I was happy he didn’t have any metal objects on him but I thoroughly padded him down to fuck him around and make sure, I then said to him and the guy who was speaking to him who I new spoke English, “If you cooperate with us we will get on and things will not take as long but if not things will just get more difficult each time you come through here!” I then let him and every one else on the bus and on there way after being delayed longer than necessary. I figured that he’d get a rifting of every one else on his bus for making them all stand outside in the rain longer than necessary and yes its been raining! We had a visit from Tony Blaire yesterday and apparently it was on the news so if you saw him at the HQ in Basrah that’s the DIV HQ we guard. The funny anecdote of the day was from one of the news reports, “Mr Blaire’s visit lifted the moral of the troops in Basrah” yeah right! Our first full day of rest for about 14 – 16 days, our first lie in!....... 9AM!!!! BANG BANG BLEEDING BANG!!! On opening the door, Sergeant Green is stood there “enjoying your lie in lads? Well it finished now!” they needed extra men down at DIV HQ because the PM was coming and we ended up stood in the DIV HQ car park on the side of the road he was coming down making sure no cars left the car park when he was on his way through and that also involved looking smart and coming to attention as he drove past…. So this paved the way for standing in the same place for 3 – 4 hours instead of chilling out writing letters or watching a film, generally relaxing…. So reviewing the news report moral was definitely not lifted, especially when you’ve got numerous officers running round flapping because the PM’s coming! Chucking orders and bone taskings at every spare soldier they can find it’s definitely not a moral boosting experience but hey that’s the military… Mind you I was stood on the car park right by the front door to HQ were they got in and out of the vehicles so at least I was right by all the action and ended up about 10m’s away from him.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

STOP! "Photo Oportunity!"

Just a quick interlude with a couple of recent pictures.....
Me on an early morning route clearence patrol....

Warner and Fitz just before we leave for a late night AO patrol
(Taken with my FUJI SLR on a slow shutter speed using the rover bonnet as a tripod)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

As far as the eye could see.....

The following morning as with the previous day we started early basically the same tasking to provide an escort for a couple of officers to forts on the Iraq/Iran border. This time how ever the forts weren’t along a river they were along a fence that divides Iraq from Iran and instead of 3 there are only two… Another difference was they were further north up into Maysan province nearer to the city of Al amara, Al amara is a more unsettled area of Iraq with allot more Insurgency attacks and problems… Bearing in mind we had been out the previous 2 days and previous day’s task took 12 hours to complete in the end, starting at 4am and not getting back in until 18.00. We then had to get all the kit (there’s allot of kit and electronics that is packed on and used) of the vehicles, get briefed on the next days task and then prepare all the vehicles and kit for our 4am start. By the time I’d got into bed it felt like I’d put my head on the pillow and the alarm went off! Oh well shit happens!

We took 3 Snatch with us on this tasking, 1 of these was a media operations Snatch which is basically a snatch with armored windows down the side so the press can snap away with some protection, also the air conditioning works! and they’re in good clean serviced condition very unlikely to break down… unlike ours! The day panned out navigation wise the same as the previous day, the platoon sergeant was in command instead of the Platoon commander and his planned route soon melted away as the routes he had planned were not there or blocked… We went out of the APOD which led us over some rough tracks into small villages and one track was blocked with junk and barbed wire, we couldn’t move it all as it would take to long and we’d be stood still far to long so we went off road round the side and got back on the road the other side of the blockage. We followed the road along about 500 meters and the reason the road was blocked became clear the road just disappeared into a river we could see the other part of the road on the other side. It looked as though the bridge and the road had been eroded and consumed by the river… The platoon sergeant then re planned his route, this took us into the outskirts of Basrah city and through a market which we weren’t planning on going through but we had to as there was a bridge this way and the next bridge was K’s north! This was my first experience of driving through a market and allot of the other lads hadn’t been through a market like this before either… What’s wrong with driving through a market? Well the problem is public order can snap in seconds you’ve got a stretch of road covered by hundreds of people crammed shoulder to shoulder in some parts so you really don’t want them to become an angry mob! You can’t move your vehicles forward quickly because there’s vehicles every where as well as people. If the local religious leaders have said today I think all British are bad then you’ll get bricked and mobbed, If he has said all British soldiers are good you won’t but there could be a group of fanatics wanting to cause problems, or some insurgents waiting to drop a grenade in a snatch as it rolls slowly through the streets… anything can happen the list is endless with different reasons, groups and methods and your ass does twitch! As we approached the market the front vehicles top cover gave a running commentary of what was in front if there’s a visible route round the market or through the market and also keeping there eyes open for any people with weapons. The decision was made to walk the vehicles through as we couldn’t drive straight through, the vehicles would get bogged down in the traffic and people. When the vehicles are walked through an area like this two blokes out of each vehicle get out and walk along side the vehicle, ordering vehicles out of the way and people this is done politely but if they don’t move or keep coming the tone and aggression is stepped up to pass the required message on as the vehicles are not to be stopped moving for anything. Once the lads are out of the vehicle walking through an area like this they become very vulnerable and have to keep there wits about them, if the situation escalated and public order became a problem as It can very easily, we have certain drills we would follow to try and get out of there without any harm coming to us. Its quite daunting seeing all these people and knowing at any moment they could all start pelting you with rocks and mobbing the vehicles… but again you still have to bear in mind the large proportion of people there don’t want any problems and don’t mind the British being in there country. We got through the market without any problems but the atmosphere deffinatly got a bit frosty and the looks of some people were unsettling, the dismounts said the same. We were all very glad to by driving away from there. We continued on for a few minutes and got to the bridge and would you believe it! The bridge had a height restriction! And the snatch’s were too tall to go through! The platoon sergeant had another look at his map and we turned round and had to go back through the market luckily with no drama’s, we then got onto route 6, this is the main drag into Basrah city and north away from Basrah but we were driving away from it luckily. The platoon sergeant didn’t have any choice but to take us up this route but it’s not the preferred route as it’s a prime target for IED attacks. We eventually found a bridge and carried on our route and it was changed numerous times again and again due to roads being blocked, washed away or just not there! We really got out into the middle of no were with desert as far as the eye could see in either direction following tracks that were just tracks through the desert no metal led roads just desert, we’d get a few kilometers in and it would be going the wrong way or disappear so we’d turn round the way we came and try something else! We went from one extreme of desert as far as the eye could see to another extreme…. We ended up deep into the marshlands and it was no longer like a marsh it was like a huge inland sea! We were on a track/road about 8-10 feet wide, the edge had crumbled away you could see were the tarmac had cracked and slid into the water, then on either side of this road that was slowly being consumed over years by the water was just that, water! As far as the eye could see water either side of the road no desert, buildings, islands or tracks just water! It was one of the most surreal and amazing things I think I’ve ever seen! After driving down this track for a few miles if we looked back all we could see was the thin road we’d come down disappearing off into the distance flanked either side by water! To the front the same just the one single road! We said jokingly if the road collapsed to our front or rear we’d be screwed as we couldn’t turn around and we were surrounded by water! But then we got to a point were the road was eroded badly! And it left us with about 6 foot of tarmac and you could see were it was cracking at the sides waiting to slide in! We got out and mulled it over, we had no choice and it looked ok so we tried it and it was fine (see picture). We never made it to any forts that day as we couldn’t find a way to them that wasn’t blocked or destroyed by man or nature! So in the end we headed back, that day we did 350km and I drove constantly for 10 hours! And it was hot!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Job.....

So what are we doing here….? As I mentioned before I’m here as part of 120 soldiers making Cambrai Company, made up from four cap badges, The light Infantry, Fusiliers, The Staffordshire Regiment and The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters. These four cap badges make the West Midland Regiment, a TA regiment that where asked to provide a Company of infantry soldiers for OPTELIC 7, Iraq, leading to Cambrai company being formed. Cambrai Company has been tasked as Force Protection for MND (SE) Basra APOD (Airport). The lay out of the Airport, it has one large perimeter with a front Gate manned by IPS (Iraqi police service) and RAF Police, this is known as Alpha Gate, this gate controls access to the civilian part of the airport and access to a second perimeter which surrounds the military enclave. The gate to the Military enclave known as Ritz gate is manned by us as one of our tasks. Within the military enclave there is the MND (SE) HQ this is the hub of all multinational forces within the South East of Iraq so its a very important location, this is also guarded by us. Also within the military enclave you have the military airport, all the RAF helicopters/planes, Iraqi Air Force and allot of separate camps for all nationalities including the Iraqi army. An example of one camp is our accommodation and company HQ, Allenby Lines; Allenby lines provides accommodation to 100’s of soldiers and civilian contractors from all different nationality’s, this camp also has its own perimeter fence and gate within the military enclave as do all camps within the enclave. Allenby is also guarded by us as another of our tasks. The APOD is a very busy place, with allot of people coming and going, armed forces from all nationalities, flights in and out bringing more people in and taking others home. Cambrai company has 4 platoons and the HQ element, the HQ element stay “at the rear with the gear” otherwise known jokingly as REMFS (Rear Echelon Mother FuckerS). The 4 platoons then use and break every thing supplied to them by HQ, then moan that HQ can’t replace it but that’s our prerogative as soldiers to bitch and moan about everything! I’m a member of 1 Platoon and the platoon is broken down into 2 multiples then broken down into 3 teams of 4 men within each multiple. The best way to give you a picture of what we’re doing is to walk you through a full rotation; we work on a 12 day rotation and at the end of the 12 days start the rotation again…. Starting with Mobiles 1, on our last rotation we went out on 3 taskings. The first being an AO (area of operations) patrol, our AO covers most of the Al Basrah province(Al Basra’s main city is Basra), Iraq is broken up into provinces, you could look at it as states like in the US. Al Basrah borders the Iraqi provinces of Di Qha, Al Mathana and Maysan. Also Al Basrah province borders Iran and Kuwait. Our tasking was to tie in with the RAF regiment as there main job is the defense of the Airport and part of that is AO patrols. We joined up with the RAF regiment and broke down into 3 vehicles and two 8 man foot sections. The 3 vehicles we took were, one snatch; a snatch is a Kevlar armored land rover with a hatch in the top for 2 guys to provide top cover by standing with the heads and weapons poking out the top. One wolf, this is a stripped down land rover with an open back and roll cage, the top cover still stand up but just lean on the roll cage and hope we don’t get shot at! The 3rd vehicle was an RAF wimic/pinky this is also a stripped down land rover with no sides but 2 two 7.62mm General purpose machine guns bolted on so what it lacks in protection it makes up for with fire power! The 2 foot sections were heli born on a Merlin Helicopter. I was the driver in the Wolf, the 3 vehicles had 4 men in each including driver, commander and 2 top cover. We moved of into a local village and secured a helicopter landing site on a road junction by using the vehicles and dismounts to block the roads and stop pedestrians form entering the landing site. Whilst doing this its inevitable you’ll get loads of children flocking round you “MR! MR!” asking for money, water, chocolate and trying to talk to you, mind you the surprising thing is the young kids speak better English than allot of the adults. It becomes difficult to do your job when you’ve got kids every were! You’re trying to watch out for any potential threats, you’re keeping an eye on them, each other, your kit and your vehicle because they’re thieving buggers! If it’s not tied down they’ll have it! You find a way though because you have no option as the threat is very real. On this particular patrol we had one of the clerks come out with us so she could get a bit of time on the ground and she ended up with a swarm round her so we had to keep a watch full eye on her as well, a high risk out here at the moment is kidnapping. When your in a populated area static in the same place for a period of time you run the risk of getting dicked (a spotter for the insurgents reports your location so an attack of some sort can be mounted) so its always best not to hang round in the same place for to long but when you blocking of a road to land a Merlin you’ve got no choice and your presence won’t be missed! For me personally this was a first I’d never cleared an area for a chopper to land. The kids soon fucked of once the chopper came into land as the combination of down draft, sand and no goggles is a very bad combination! Sand blasted eye balls!! Once the foot patrol was on the ground the vehicles satellite the pre determined area of the foot patrol to provide a quick response force for the patrol, so if they got in the shit and needed help to extract there’d be no serious dramas. Also it adds to the visual presence on the ground if the locals see foot patrols and vehicles patrolling. Once the foot patrol had finished we did the same again blocked the road off and the Merlin came in to extract the foot patrols. This finished late evening, we then had to get back to camp get all the kit of the vehicles and then we were briefed on the mornings tasking, prepared the vehicles and equipment for the morning. We got to bed late probably about 11pm then up at 4am to commence the next task. The day’s task starting at 4am was to provide an armed escort for some officers British and American to 3 forts on the Iraq/Iran border. This was set to be a long day, we had a fair distance to cover and that’s not including any hold ups due to coming across suspicious devices/objects by or in the road etc that need closer inspection to make sure we’re not going to become the victim of an IED attack and get blown up. The platoon commander’s navigation skills were put to the test as the maps we use don’t mark all roads and tracks and for the ones that are marked on the map a large proportion of them are blocked of or destroyed so the initial route he had planned soon went out the window! The roads over here aren’t maintained and really put your driving to the test some times. Think of the farm tracks you end up on when you’ve gone the wrong way in England its just hard mud baked in the sun with dips and ruts bouncing you round all over the place but imagine that to the degree that you couldn’t even take a car down it, those sort of tracks are the roads here for miles and miles. The problem is in a snatch its top heavy any way kevelar and they’re very heavy much taller than a normal land rover and then you’ve got 2 blokes standing out the top. It sways and leans all over the place, since we’ve been here one snatch tipped over on a motorway slid sideways and one of out lads on top cover had to have his spleen removed (he was sent home after the operation). This task was a good though we got to see allot more of Iraq, we got out into the marshes or were the marshes were before Sadam drained them turning them into baron wastelands with man made irrigation systems made by the locals to try and grow crops and provide water. The tracks used to lead through expanses of water filled marsh but now they’re just mud tracks with a 6 foot drop either side leading into baron dust bowels. It’s amazing to see how people live still so basic in mud huts, fishing and farming for food, no comprehension of modern technology like digital cameras, things we take for granted. We eventually found the first fort, the officers went of to do whatever it was they were there for once we’d made sure it was all secure. Security wasn’t a major drama as the fort was manned by Iraqi army and Iraqi border police and relations with them are relatively good. Then there we were, stood on the fort by a river, the other side of the river a fence that went for miles and miles either way following the river, watch towers dotted along it, the Iranian border. After seeing so much on TV and reading about all the western tension with Iran in the news it was quite strange to think we were a stones throw away. Looking through our telescopic sights we could see the Iranian guards in the watch towers. If they looked over to the roof of this fort through they’re binoculars all they’d see would be a group of British soldiers having there photo’s taken pointing at the border or maneuvering a confused Iraqi soldier into a pose for a photo. We saw the funny side….

Thursday, December 15, 2005

And it begins.....

After 8 weeks pre training we’ve finally arrived in theatre… Sat in Basra now it still feels very surreal! We’re based at Basra air station 10 minutes drive from Basra’s busy centre, our role as Cambrai Company is force protection for MND (se) which is the multi national division (south east of Iraq) what this role consists of I’ll explain thoroughly later. Leaving the UK was an experience, on leaving my mind was full of visions, questions and thoughts of what it would be like? What will happen when we get there? What will happen while we’re there? But I suppose more importantly what will it really be like there will it be as I imagined….. The flight was a bit different! I’ve been on planes lots of times before but when you board an RAF plane carrying body armour, helmet and wearing a desert cam uniform your brain starts ticking, especially getting on the plane as part of a full company of 120 Infantry soldiers heading for Iraq; probably the most dangerous place on earth or so we kept getting told all the way through our training. When we were getting on the plane the reality started to hit home “you’re actually doing this, there’s no going back the next 6 months are going to be spent in Iraq, away from Beth, friends, family…. What’s going to happen in the next 6 months? Anything is possible!” If you’re scared of flying then you would have had a heart attack on this flight! The take of and flight itself was fine, a 4 hour journey on tri star which is similar to a commercial flight with in-flight meal provided by stewards. How ever about 20 minutes before we landed we were told to don our body armour and helmets for our final approach. Looking round the plane was a most surreal experience, imagine a normal passenger flight to Majorca for example or were ever you go on your holidays, the planes rammed to the rafters every one is sat in there rows but they’ve all got Kevlar helmets on and body armour. The reason we wore body armour and helmet is because there’s a risk of being shot at from the ground on the final approach. Moments after we’d put our body armour and helmets on the blinds on the windows are all rolled down, it was dark outside any way but we now couldn’t see any lights on the ground just the blind. Then all the lights inside and outside the plane were turned off plunging the plane into darkness I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face…. The last 15 minutes of the flight I was just guessing using my senses to try and tell where we were, the plane suddenly banked steeply and then bounced up, while this was happening we were loosing altitude very quickly and my ears felt like they needed to pop but wouldn’t so they started squealing, I was in agony! I wanted the plane to land so me ears could sort themselves out but it felt like we were going all over the place quickly and downwards, a few times I thought the plane had landed but actually it was still in the air! This went on for what seemed like an eternity with my ears screaming and the darkness rocking me around and around… eventually we landed but my ears didn’t return to normal instead it sounded like I was listening to the world through a shell of the beach… Once on the ground and at the airport my mind was ticking over, we were finally in Iraq, started thinking about mortar drills and wondering if we’re going to get attacked by mortars what to do if we did? How safe is the airport? Now I’m settled in and know what’s what it’s different that’s just really unlikely and I know not to worry but in the same breath I’m not switching off and becoming complacent. I know my drills and I know the threat is very real but also realise that it’s not an everyday occurrence, it will happen in our time here but deal with it when it happens. The company of soldiers we took over from (the rifle volunteers) had 6 mortar attacks in 6 months so as we’ve been here a month we should be due one. I suppose the reason my mind was racing when we first got here is because in reality before you get here all you do is train for mortars, small arms attacks, how to defend your selves and how to attack your attackers, watch the news and see bombings, hear about soldiers being killed but in reality over here its totally different to how you expect it to be. The reality is the insurgents are here and they are killing troops, detonating bombs and mortaring multi national forces but once you here it becomes day to day and the edge is taken of it, the drama and I suppose media/movies driven excitement is removed and it becomes life. We don’t see any news over here papers are few and far between. The risk is in a sense as day to day as when I used to get up in the morning jump in my car and drive to work I had to stay alert and watch out for other maniacs on the road who could kill you with head on smash or a pedestrian that could walk out in front of you. Obviously it’s dangerous over here and there is a extremely higher possibility of ending up in a situation but the point I’m trying to make is it’s very different to how I imagined it because everyone is dealing with the same problem the threat is more manageable, so in turn the threat to us out here psychologically is not as intense and stressful as I first imagined. The best phrase to use is “We’re just doing our job and the risk is a large part of that job” Reality, we spent the first and the second week doing more training based round what the guys we’re taking over from were doing and how they did it and if it was different to the way we planned to do it. However the training wasn’t excessive so we had quite a bit of time to sort our selves out and get settled in, mind you if it was planned like that I’m unsure... We had chance every night to get in the camp bar and indulge in our 2 cans of beer, phone friends and family. Every one had started to feel safe and snug in this little world that actually wasn’t all that bad. Almost forgetting where we were…. Until a patrol going through Basra got hit by an IED (improvised explosive device, bomb) the device used was an EFP (explosively formed projectile). EFP’s are basically big molten lumps of copper that blast from the explosion through the armour of the vehicle and out the other side, currently the subject of hot debate in the press and showing through political strains with Iran, as the source of these EFP devices seems to be Iran but if we remember the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq they were never found, hence the media debates at the moment. Sadly a fusilier from Birmingham lost his life in the IED attack. The first we new about this incident was moments after it happened as part of our force protection role is to provide an Incident response team which is a 4 man team who go out with the medics on sea king helicopter to any incidents like this. The 4 man team then provide protection to the medics on the ground and assist with medical treatment and in some cases picking bits of people up and popping them into evidence bags. So in this case the IRT team were crashed and went out to this bombing. A British soldier being killed in our back yard using a route that some of our guys were going to take that afternoon was a wake up call for everyone. It brings on a moment of reflection you sit back and think SHIT! We’re in Iraq and people are dying! The reality of what we’re doing and the risks suddenly became real again, you could see that everyone had received a reality injection, seeing some of the guys round camp it was obvious….