Riding Route 4
Day 6. The flight in to Kandahar from Dubai was uneventful. I gave up looking at the scenery after a while because it became almost impossible to work out where the dust grey sky stopped and the dust grey earth began. Utterly featureless for much of the way with the occasional massif sticking out of the desert as we approached the Pakistani – Afghan border (only 82 km from my operating base). As we approached Kandahar the pitch of the engines changed and we went nose-down into a steep descent, followed by a tight right bank, an equally tight left bank, climb then nose down again to repeat the process…. the pilot obviously in anti-ground fire mode. He must have been an ex Soviet fighter pilot!
I was met by two of my PSD who guided me through the queue to exit after I grabbed my two bags, threw body armour on me and briefed me on ‘actions on’. I climbed into the back of the armoured cruiser and we drove out onto Route 4. My head was on a swivel, scanning left and right for the hordes of Taliban I imagined must have been laying in wait for me. Nothing but a wind-swept, dusty, treeless, rubbished-up, crappy looking plain dotted with destroyed buildings and burnt out T54 hulls, their bent and busted barrels dragging in the dirt.
Yesterday was briefs, intros, tour of the base, a 5 km run, a bar-b-que with some of the lads for dinner, and, finally, a long shower then collapse into bed. I was asleep in minutes. Today has been revision, testing and qualification on the Glock 17, Laws of Armed Conflict revision and my PT test is in an hour. TF, who I am replacing, and I threw on the body armour and took a dash up Route 4 to KAF where I got the cook’s tour and bought some pants and shirts from the PX. I’m not sure I’m happy about tripping up and down between here and KAF in a soft-skin. I think I might try and time my future visits with a force protection task.
I just met the Afghan commander of the majority of our guard force. These are all local national and are responsible for mobile guarding of all convoys. We do not send westerners or Nepalese out on convoy duty as they just would not survive – way too tempting a target for the Taliban. Force Protection, including western team leaders, do conduct convoy protection but only on the 5km route from here to KAF. Anyway, through my interpreter, I discussed briefly how I looked forward to our friendship and successful business relationship. TF sorted a thing or two out for him, thanked him for his efforts in the time he (TF) was here and that was the end of the meeting.