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Chapter 27

I walked into the CP at Bastion. McGinty looked up.

‘Back again so soon? It feels like you’ve never been away.’
‘Longest ten days of my life, being at the Rear. I am glad to
be up here in the heart of the action.’
That was not strictly true. It had been good to be at KAF.
I had made the most of the gym and stealing the Humvees
had been a blast.
‘We “borrowed” two Hummers from our American cous-
ins. It was hoofing. If only we could replace all of those
shagged-out Landies with Humvees we’d be laughing.’
‘I wish,’ said McGinty. ‘Those Landies have got years in
them yet. They’ll still be here on your next tour, mate. When
are you back out again?’
‘March 07 is my next holiday at Camp Bastion. It
works out as two months, every six months.’
‘Are you back to do the RIP?’
‘Yep, Jonnie Porn and OC ‘B’ are leading it.’
I had come Forward to take part in the biggest deliberate
op to be flown to date by the CH-47 during our time in
Afghanistan. We were taking in India Company 42 Com-
mando Royal Marines, supported by ‘B’ Company of 3
Para and extracting ‘C’ Company 3 Para out of Sangin. It
marked the beginning of the end of 3 Para’s six-month
arduous campaign in theatre. A roulement – a Deployment
– between the two units was taking place across all the DCs
throughout the province, in various guises.
Instead of taking everybody out in one go, leaving the


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place empty and then putting the new troops in, we did what
was called a Relief in Place. The plan was to put India Com-
pany in first, give them time to do a handover, establish the
lie of the land and the enemy hot spots, and then when they
had sussed it all out extract ‘C’ and ‘B’ Company 3 Para.
This was the first time an RIP of this size had taken place
in a combat theatre. It was the first large-scale operation for
us Brits in Afghanistan during such a high threat level. This
was the beauty of being in the Chinook world – it was a
richly diverse environment which continually tested our fly-
ing skills to the max.
The plan was to have a ground offensive while we were there
unloading troops. The Paras in the DC were going to push out
into Sangin town and then move to the south. This was to make
sure that any Taliban fighters were cleared out to secure a cor-
don of a couple of miles around the DC so that we had a free-
dom of manoeuvre with no threat from insurgents.
We were going to take 42 CDO RM in and put them to the
south-west of the DC, out on the dried-up riverbank. This
was scheduled for daybreak.

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