Life on the frontline in Afghanistan

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THE West Sussex County Times is proud to bring you this exclusive Afghanistan blog post from Storrington’s own 2nd Lieutenant Hattie Haslam-Greene.

2nd Lt. Haslam-Greene, 24, is serving with 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS) in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Based at the Battlegroup’s headquarters in Lashkar Gah, she is part of the Female Engagement Team whose role is to build better relationships with the women of Afghanistan.

This is her first operational tour since joining the army 18 months ago.

“I find it hard to believe that I’ve been here over a month already. We’re working very long hours which can make the days feel quite prolonged but despite this, the weeks do seem to go past quickly.

“It’s certainly been an interesting month.

“Today I went outside the wire with the US Marine Corps FET and the Provincial Reconstruction Team to meet with the Afghan Department of Women’s Affairs (DOWA).

“It’s pretty interesting seeing how women here live, but it can be quite upsetting when you realise how few rights they have. I hope we can help make some kind of difference.

“Over the next few days, I’m back to Bastion for some weekend meetings and then I have FET training and follow up engagements with the DOWA next week which I’m really looking forward to.

“One of my soldiers has been in a Patrol Base for the last couple of weeks doing female searching at vehicle check points and she’s back this weekend, so the team will be together again.

“Though I sometimes can’t believe how hard we work it’s good that there’s plenty to get stuck into here and every day brings a new challenge, which is really rewarding. I like not knowing what the next day will bring.

“I was glad to leave Bastion behind as it’s so vast and anonymous, full of transiting troops (and a load of guys who’d just finished their tour, which was faintly demoralising) but MOB (Main Operating Base) Lashkar Gah couldn’t be more different.

“To put it into perspective: it takes roughly six minutes to run around the perimeter fence here. The MOB is pretty civilised in comparison to what the troops face in the Forward Operating Bases and Check Points as we have proper showers and decent sleeping areas in the tents, but it still feels like a parallel universe to being back home.

“The hardest adjustment for me has been the absence of trees and anything green – being a Sussex girl I’m a real country bumpkin.

“We celebrated the Royal Wedding on the 29th and we all watched it on the screen which was a break in routine and gave us a link back to the UK, but it also made me miss home.

“I would have loved to have been there celebrating with my friends.”

Please feel free to send your messages of support to ct.news@sussexnewspapers.co.uk. Do you know someone from Horsham who is serving in the armed forces? Let us know on 01403 751 256.