EXCLUSIVE: From the frontline - Afghanistan blog

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THE COUNTY Times is proud to bring you the second instalment in our exclusive Afghanistan blog series from 2nd Lieutenant Hattie Haslam-Greene, from Storrington.

2nd Lt. Hattie Haslam-Greene, 24, is serving with the 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS) in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, based at Lashkar Gah.

She works on the Female Engagement Team building better relationships with the women of Afghanistan.

Hattie hit the national headlines after appearing in the County Times back in May.

Two months in to her tour Hattie explains what has been keeping her busy.

“The reaction from the locals to the increased International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) presence in some of the less secure areas has been really positive and the Afghan National Security Forces are increasingly pro-active in combating the insurgency.

“More and more now, the Afghans are taking the lead. Almost every patrol and operation that’s carried out is now partnered, with ISAF increasingly taking on a mentoring role - overseeing and facilitating tasks that the Afghan Army and Police want to carry out.

“Not surprising then that when the Female Engagement Team went out to Bolan, an area to the East of Nad-e Ali, last week to hold an animal husbandry workshop for locals, we ran it in conjunction with the Afghan National Police (ANP).

“A lot of locals and elders attended and we sat them on carpets outside the police station with food and drink that we had brought. We kept the whole thing pretty light-hearted and the local people really got into the spirit of things.

“Unfortunately, a number of my colleagues also showed up wielding cameras and as a result, there are various photographs of my team and me standing next to posters bearing images of copulating goats are now flying around Task Force Helmand.

“Before the insurgency took hold here, women attended school and went to work. ISAF is working alongside the Provincial Reconstruction Team and Aid organisations to improve the lives of women and overcome restrictions that have been placed upon them and their rights. We’re really keen to get training schemes off the ground for midwives and to provide facilities for girls to attend school. My intention now I’ve returned to Lashkar Gah is to meet with the Department of Women’s Affairs once again and pass on what we have learned in Bolan, so that we can plan how to support the area.

“One of the elders in Bolan was shot seven times by the Taliban last year: he showed us his scars and said that the situation in his area has now improved sufficiently for him to move around unafraid. Spending time with the people in Bolan, who talked to us at grassroots level about the improvements in security that ISAF have brought to their area, confirmed to me that what we are doing here is worthwhile.”