What we achieved in our six months in Afghanistan
Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Herbert, the Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 SCOTS), looks back over his tour.
Our tour is fast approaching the end and, as I write this, we have less than a month to go. It is a timely opportunity to look back and reflect on what we have achieved during this challenging, fascinating and, at times, frustrating tour.
Six months ago we deployed as the OMLT Battle Group – trained, structured and prepared to mentor the Afghan National Army (ANA). As is well known, we were required to restructure very significantly in our first few weeks. That we achieved this so rapidly and as a capably as we did, says much for the flexibility and mental agility that characterises 1 SCOTS. That Waterloo Company went on to achieve so much in a role that they had not specifically trained or prepared for speaks equally well of the leadership, fighting spirit and initiative of all involved in the company. They have been in the thick of the fighting over recent weeks, and have excelled.
For the rest of us in the 3/215 Brigade Advisor Group, we inherited in late March 2010 an almost brand new Afghan Brigade headquarters with no experience, little training, limited understanding of its role, and little confidence in its own ability. We leave behind us a headquarters that is better manned, better trained, and better able to contribute significantly to this campaign. It has been well tested too, on two demanding Brigade level operations, which, with our support, were genuinely Afghan-led. Operations OMID DO and OMID SEY were major milestones in the development of the ANA in Central Helmand and I for one am rather proud of what we have achieved with our Afghan colleagues. All ranks should feel the same.
Similar levels of progress have been achieved across the 3/215 Brigade Advisor Group. Our infantry kandaks have developed across the board. They are better manned, better equipped, and boast better infrastructure than before, and their appetite for the fight is seemingly greater than it was six months ago. We have developed a recce company, IED disposal and search capabilities, and have transformed their artillery and engineers, to an extent far greater than anyone had anticipated. We have fielded a new Infantry Kandak, assumed responsibility for the Highway Kandak, and have worked tirelessly to support their logistical tail. We may not have created an organisation in our own likeness during our time, but we have most certainly achieved an enormous amount, and in doing so have set the conditions for success.