Horsham Officer Leads from the Front in Helmand

Christmas in Helmand
Christmas in Helmand

AN OFFICER from Horsham has been leading troops on the frontline in Afghanistan with 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment on Operation Herrick 15.

Lieutenant Oliver Bullen joined C Company in Nahr-e Saraj North for the second half of their tour in Helmand Province, leading his platoon on regular operations and patrols in Helmand’s ‘Green Zone’, the fertile area of land which surrounds the Helmand River.

Lieutenant Bullen’s role as a platoon commander sees him plan and lead operations, with 30 soldiers under his command.

The 22 year-old said: “On the ground my role is to ensure that the sections commanders feed me information that allows me to gain an understanding of the whole patrol or operation.

“From there I work out how best to achieve my aim, whether that is to defeat the insurgent or to engage with the local population.

“If we come under enemy fire it is my job to come up with a plan on how to deal with them and then quickly brief the section commanders on how I want them to execute this plan.”

Lieutenant Bullen is on his first tour of Afghanistan after joining the Army in January 2010, and since he deployed has led his soldiers on patrol on an almost daily basis, and has regularly come under fire from the insurgents.

He said: “To command a platoon on the ground in Afghanistan is a very prestigious aspect of my job.

“It is the reason that I joined the army and I feel very proud to have worked with some utterly professional and totally dedicated soldiers and non-commissioned officers.

“Being the platoon commander, it can sometimes be a daunting task to think that you have control over 30 young soldiers’ lives and to feel that your actions will directly affect their safety on the ground.

“I have become very cautious and meticulous in my planning.

“The training that I received definitely gave me the skills to have commanded these soldiers in Helmand Province.

“I have been lucky to have worked with a very experienced and capable Platoon Sergeant who has helped me on numerous occasions by offering his experienced outlook on operations.”

Lieutenant Bullen is looking forward to returning from Afghanistan for some well-earned post-operational leave, and enjoying some time to relax in the 1 PWRR Officers’ Mess in Paderborn, Germany.

The former student of City of London Freemens and Chichester College said: “Operating in Afghanistan has been the highlight of my army career.

“It is the reason I joined, and to know that we are out here helping the ANA to stabilise large parts of Helmand Province so that the people of Afghanistan can lead a safe and trouble free life here fills me with great pride in our work here.”

Article contributed by Ministry of Defence.

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