Diary of a video embed – Part 2

December 12, 2006

This is the second posting from Laurent Hamida who is ’embedded’ with the British Army in south Afghanistan Laurent HamidaAfter a good night, I went to meet the royal marines who where staying around our place, trying to build some contacts. Had a few words with the c/o [commanding officer], a major — small build but you could feel a tough guy — then had a conversation with a sergeant-major who has been with the marines for 20 years, quite a character. A lot of blah blah, nothing of any importance, just a way to get close.The sergeant looked at me in the eye and said with a smile: you ve got interesting tattoos; well, everybody has a past. Then he introduced me to a captain who was going on reco [reconnaisance] in the district center in a couple of hours.In the fighting holes, three marines were sleeping, another one was cleaning his gun. The captain told me about their mission. He was very young, one could smell his force. The men seemed to love him. He introduced me to the British rifle, asked me if I wanted a gun, after I refused politely we moved on.I found myself in the front of a funny vehicle called a Wiking — a kind of APC [Armoured Personnel Carrier] with tracks. The faces of the guys were serious, I could have felt safe, but I knew better. We disembarked on the outskirts of the village, then walked on.The usual progression in a hostile environment: some covering the others who were advancing, it always makes good pictures. Running, waiting, watching and running.The first incoming fire arrived: mortar, I guessed it was 82 metres, the captain confirmed it. Running for cover.Trying to find a way to get on some roofs to have a view on the area. Finally found an Afghan ladder! Climbed on a roof. We were taking a lot of incoming Kalash fire, the enemy was clearly not far at all. Then the marines started to open up, as they say, with everything they had. Light machine gun, rocket launcher, a big show. But the incoming were still coming. Eventually the night fell, and with it the cold too, le calme revient. We left the place, got back in our Wikings, then back into the desert. It was raining, heavy, icy rain.Started to edit protected by a canvas, which had been set between two tanks. A nightmare, icy fingers, wind gusts loaded with sand. Started to feed a four minute edit at 21:00 local. After an hour of transmitting, the file was lost, I started again.At 23:00 a storm arrived, the canvas gave up and went with the wind, the Bgan [satellite phone] tried to do the same, hell. Started to transmit again at midnight. Transmission stopped again at 01:00. But London had got 70 percent of the story, so I started sending again the missing part. At 03:00 I gave up, went into my sleeping bag, under a canvas, and left the computer transmitting alone.Woke up at 07:00. Called London. Great news, they had it! The full story! With a sigh and a smile, I slipped back into my sleeping bag. Laurent expects to file several more times during his embed and you can see his first posting here.  If you have any questions for Laurent please use the comment box below..

Material gathered by Laurent includes:

Embedded troops in Afghanistan

Heavy firefight in Afghanistan

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