'Don't forget about us on the frontline'
VIDEO A frontline paratrooper in Afghanistan has told how soldiers can feel “forgotten” by people back home as they continue the long and arduous fight against the Taliban.
A FRONTLINE paratrooper in Afghanistan has told how soldiers can feel “forgotten” by people back home as they continue the long and arduous fight against the Taliban.
Colchester-based Private Martin Smith also called on people to learn more about the current conflict and take more of an interest in what is happening there.
Pte Smith, 24, made his comments while serving with B Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment in the notorious Helmand Province of the country.
Even on a routine patrol in the inhospitable area, soldiers from B Company have an 80% chance of encountering Taliban fighters. Last week 25 enemy Taliban were killed by the Colchester-based company alone.
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“You kind of feel forgotten, people back home are getting on with their lives and doing normal things and you can't really talk about what's been going on anyway so you feel a bit neglected. I find that quite hard,” said Pte Smith.
“People are quite naïve, they pretend it's not happening. They should read more into the media and discover what is going on out here because it does concern everybody.
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“Somewhere along the line they will know somebody out here so I think people should take more of an interest and appreciate what is going on.”
Stationed on the edge of the notorious green zone, in Forward Operating Base Inkerman in the Upper Sangin Valley, Pte Smith is among 250 soldiers living in one of the most dangerous and austere bases that UK troops occupy.
The Upper Sangin Valley is a hotbed for the heroin industry and Inkerman is all that stands in-between the Taliban and the relatively safer Development Zone to the south.
Nine Colchester-based soldiers - seven of them Paras - have been killed in Afghanistan since the latest six month tour began.
Three of these - Pte Nathan Cuthbertson, Pte Daniel Gamble and Pte Charles Murray - were members of B Company and died in June near the Inkerman base when a suicide bomber struck their patrol.
Major Russell Lewis, who is B Company Commander at the Inkerman base, said the deaths had affected the soldiers stationed there.
“They were the first losses for the Battalion as well out here, and as you can imagine the atmosphere in the FOB was incredibly sombre and upset.
“But what was amazing though was how quickly people dealt with it, either as individuals or groups.
“It is amazing how just allowing people to talk amongst themselves really helps them,” he said.
He added that he did not believe everyone at home had forgotten about the tough job the soldiers were doing.
“The amount of welfare parcels that we have been sent from people that we have never heard of, nor have any connection with the armed forces, is touching - like when we get a parcel with a small note from a small church somewhere saying we just wanted to say how much we are supporting you,” he said.
“The guys are doing an amazing job in incredibly challenging conditions and they do it really well.
“The nation should be proud of its armed forces because the people out here are working really hard in a really hard environment and producing impressive results.”