Afghan troop debate set to intensify
‘Every so often a sentence comes along that jumps up and demands to be written, however ludicrous and unlikely. This is one of them,’ writes James Landale, Deputy Political Editor for BBC News in Afghanistan.
‘Last night, while wearing a pair of protective, anti-ballistic boxer shorts, I watched Coronation Street in a dusty tent in Afghanistan with the defence secretary, the heads of the army and navy and the British ambassador to Kabul.
I drank Gatorade, they nibbled soggy energy bars that had wilted in the 45 degree heat.
We were there, gazing blankly into the British Forces Broadcasting Service television set, at the request of the RAF after one of their C130 Hercules transport aircraft had unexpectedly given up on its labours and broken down on the apron at Camp Bastion.
After an exhausting day touring Helmand province, it was all we could do to get up to change the channel.
The anti-ballistic underwear was all that was left of the increasingly sophisticated body armour and protection that the joint forces of the BBC and the Ministry of Defence require correspondents to wear to satisfy wives and insurance companies.
Apparently these somewhat warm pants are so effective in deflecting shrapnel that the US military have just ordered 35,000 pairs. So, as I sat, properly dressed for war and chastity, I mulled over the past frenetic 24 hours as we flew in the blistering heat from headquarters to patrol bases across Helmand province.
Here are a few impressions, in no particular order:’
To read James Landale’s full account on BBC News Online, click HERE, or on the image above.