Airborne Warfare! Security Success Displayed from the Sky.
Fun and enjoyment of the kind never tolerated when insurgents were in control has been experienced by children in the newly-secured Afghan village of Popalzai – thanks to British and Afghan troops, a few simple toys and some ace flying ability.
Having already suppressed insurgent activity with their frequent joint patrols, soldiers from the Afghan National Army and their British partners from 2 SCOTS are now concentrating on building relationships with the community.
Often on their joint patrols, British and Afghan troops carry items such as notebooks, pens and Afghan flags which they hand out to appreciative locals. Now the patrols in this area of Lashkar Gah district have started also handing out kite kits – and the toys have gone down a storm with youngsters.
On a patrol yesterday, dozens of kites were handed out and, while some of the troops chatted to local adults gaining valuable information and developing key contacts, others helped their children to build the kites and taught them how to fly them.
Colour Sergeant Roddy Weir, who was involved, said:
“Before long the soldiers were sharing a laugh and a joke with the local children. The kids were thrilled to receive the kites and almost overwhelmed the soldiers who were showing them how to put them together.
“It was a strange experience for most of the young soldiers – it’s not often you deploy on a foot patrol only to find yourself playing with kites and entertaining the local children!”
Lieutenant Erik Smith, of 2 SCOTS, added:
“This was a fantastic sight and real evidence of progress in Helmand province. Sights like this are becoming increasingly common and, as the confidence of people and communities gets stronger, there is nothing the insurgents can do about it.
“Even in areas that were previously contested, children can now approach the ISAF and Afghan forces without fear.”