The day started the same as any other day at the F.O.B, some quick scran before getting our gear ready, and moving on to the first of our daily patrols. We all gathered in the main mess area, waiting for our briefing on the days events and where we’d be heading out to. Everyone seemed pretty up beat, we had been in Afghanistan for about 5 weeks so far so we were all pretty eager to see some proper action. The CO walked in with a face like shit, he’d obviously had a crap night, but why? He didn’t even look like he had slept at all, not a good thing for us! He sat down on the table and crossed his arms, silence filled the room for what felt like minutes. Then he spoke, his voice was calm, but slightly agitated, very different to his usual jokey self, something was wrong. “Ive got some bad news for you lads” he said “were being pulled out of here and assigned to the US base up in Sangar”. The mood in the room dropped almost instantaneously, we all knew what it was like up there, ‘Hells Canyon’ was the most accurate nickname I had heard for it. It had recently been part of the US Marines operation area, but it was obviously their time to go home, part of me felt quite happy, we had been chosen to take over, we must be good at something right?
The brief went on for a good 45 minutes, we now knew what was expected of us and the sort of things we would encounter whilst up there, and none of us were entirely pleased with it. The whole area was scattered with IED’s and unexploded bombs left by the Russians, the yanks didn’t really clear much on their deployment, they were just there as a show of force incase the Taliban moved around too much. Our orders were to clear it, all of it, ready for a new F.O.B that would be used by the OMLT’s and the Afghan forces, we didn’t have long, 3 months to be exact, to clear an area the size of your average English town. Doesn’t sound a lot, but things moved a lot slower out there, it was going to be a lot of hard work. We were ordered to pack all of the essentials that we were going to need for the next 12 weeks, and that’s it, we left the luxuries of the F.O.B behind us, even the iPods, we only took what we needed to survive, and that was only the bare necessities. We were being picked up by a Chinook helicopter that would take us up to Sangar, it was a long flight, and it was the peak of the Afghan summer, we would be lucky to see the temperature drop below 35 degrees. But even though we knew where we were going and what we were doing there, a slight part of us was excited. I have no idea why, and I don’t think I ever will, but we were certain that we’d see a lot of action, our adrenaline was pumping and we were ready. This ‘holiday’ as some of the more, A.J’s (adrenaline junkies) called it, was going to be a deployment like no other, we had many expectations of what it was going to be like, none of us though, were right.
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