Tag Archives: Helmand

How did the Taliban get close enough to Camp Bastion to mount an attack on Prince Harry?

An investigation is now underway to establish how almost twenty insurgents mounted an attack on the UK’s biggest military base in Helmand Province. Camp Bastion which has been the home to thousands of British Troops since 2006, had up until now been as its name suggests a bastion or stronghold for coalition troops.

When it was first occupied it was a small tented settlement surrounded by miles and miles of the Afghan Dasht-e (desert). This meant it was isolated and separated from the Afghan people and most importantly the insurgents, but over the years its size has grown and grown. Driving south from Highway One (Afghanistan’s one and only main road) visitors are now greeted by a vast sprawling city which is home to thousands of multinational troops (not to mention a Pizza Hut, a KFC and dozens of coffee shops). Where there was just one camp, there is are now Camp Bastion zero, one, two and three as well as Camp Leatherneck (U.S) and Camp Shorabak (ANA).

But how could a group of insurgents get close enough to mount an attack on this huge military garrison in the sand? Whilst its size makes it a daunting target it also makes it harder to defend, and where it was once surrounded by nothing but sand and rock, its wire fences and guard towers have now migrated out further towards the Afghan people. The base has also attracted groups of Afghans to move and live on its boundaries, to benefit from the security and the trade of living under the watch of its menacing guard towers. But this means that it is now normal to see people moving around its perimeter, allowing any potential attacker to get closer to the base by using the newly built settlements as cover.

This however isn’t the first time that there has been a security breach at Camp Bastion this year. In March a locally employed civilian (LEC) protested over the burning of copies of the Koran at Bagram Airbase. He drove around the camp allegedly attempting to run over members of the Armed Forces before attempting to drive his car onto the runway. It was there he was stopped, however not before he could set himself on fire.

The report below shows how the size of Camp Bastion has meant that its security is more challenging now than it has ever been, it was filmed in March 2012 on the same day as the security breach mentioned above
whilst I was working for British Forces News.


The evolution of armoured vehicles in Afghanistan

Armoured vehicles can be the difference between life or death for service personnel on the roads in Afghanistan. Acting Corporal Martin Wotjak died in Afghanistan in 2009 after the Vector he was travelling in hit an IED.  An inquest into his death was critical of the vehicle and it has been claimed that if he had been in a more heavily protected vehicle he may have survived the blast. Since then, vehicles used by our troops have developed. I looked at what has changed in Helmand since 2009 and spoke to one soldier who had recently tested his vehicle to the very limit.

US Marines expand the security bubble around Musa Qala

The US Marine Corps in Afghanistan is pushing out the security bubble around Musa Qala, as it prepares to hand over to the Afghan National Army.

Royal Engineers help to push the Taliban out of Loy Mandeh

Checkpoints built by the Royal Engineers have helped revive an area on the northern edge of Nad-e Ali. The bazaar in Loy Manday had been a thriving market until fighting forced shops to shut and buildings fell into disrepair. But troops from the nearby FOB WAHID have been pushing insurgents out of the area and new checkpoints have helped re-establish security. Improved safety means local Afghans are starting to use the bazaar again.