RECENTLY promoted Lieutenant Hattie Haslam-Greene from Storrington talks about her experiences in Afghanistan in another instalment in our exclusive blog series.
Lieutenant 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 female population of Afghanistan.
This is her first operational tour since joining the Army 18 months ago.
Here, she describes the mixed emotions as she nears the end of her tour:
“THIS is a really exciting week as I’ve just gone past the 40 day point to end of tour – a couple more weeks and it’s only a month to go, which seems unbelievable.
It’s finally getting cooler here in the mornings, and at night, and at the heat of the day is not going above about 38 degrees now, which is such a relief and also a reminder that September is here!
There was a point in August where the heat was really unbearable so we’ve all been waiting with lots of anticipation for the morning weather updates.
The Relief in Place (RIP) is now well underway with people’s replacements coming in to conduct their handovers – there are constant new faces and names to learn. It’s pretty good for morale, having the guys come in fresh ready to begin their six month stints.
It’s a bit sad too though, saying goodbye to people I’ve worked with for the last half a year, longer in fact if you include all the pre-deployment training.
There are no emotional farewells – people are generally so pleased to be leaving and heading back to friends and family!
As I’ve said before, in the Army you become close to people and very quickly, they move on. But it’s part of the job and because everyone’s so used to the constant rotation of postings, people get welcomed in really quickly as well. Some of the new guys have been here less than a week and already you can’t imagine the place without them. The only real difference is that they’re pretty pale looking!
I’ve had an interesting couple of weeks. I moved from the main base in Lashkar Gah out to one of the Check Point locations out in the Nahr e Saraj district for a while.
It was a bit of a change of atmosphere working with the Highlanders who have been manning the CP. I actually got to take my boots off for a bit as well – we have to stay in full kit and boots in Headquarters, but the forward locations are a lot more relaxed.
I got to see some of my friends from the Scots DG mess in Germany who are based in the CP while I was there which was good.
They come in to Lashkar Gah sporadically but I don’t see them that much.
They all look pretty skinny from being out at the CP living on rations. We got a copy of the Highlanders Battalion photograph the other day that was taken just before we deployed and searching for everyone was like playing ‘Where’s Wally’!
Everyone’s unrecognisable as they’ve lost so much weight! It’s a good side effect of six months in Afghanistan I guess.
Now I’m back in Lashkar Gah and the focus is on keeping up the momentum until the official takeover by the incoming Battlegroup next month.
Everyone’s pretty frantic with their own handovers but there’s so much to organise on a Battlegroup level as well – flights and kit handover as well as checking all the vehicles for faults. It won’t stop until we’re on the flight to Cyprus from Bastion.
Fortunately, that moment is now pretty clear on the horizon.”