Diary of a video embed – Part 3
This is the third posting from Laurent Hamida who is embedded with the British Army in south Afghanistan. A few hours later, when I woke up, everything was quiet, the desert had not changed, but we had the visit of a new friend: an icy, dusty wind.We were all looking like ghosts, keeping our eyes down to the ground and moving slowly. Went to see the Royal Marines to talk about the following day. They told me the plan was to move into the central district of Garm Sheer. I could choose where and with whom I wanted to be. I chose the Marines of course. They trusted me, told me everything about the plan. It had taken me one week to get there, not bad.Before I sank deep into my sleeping bag at night, the commander told me to be ready at 03:10 AM.Woke up at 02:30, cold, cold. Beautiful sky, almost full moon, and the stars…Silence, nobody was talking, everybody was packing their things, nothing to be left behind.Went to join my platoon, got into the Wiking and waited to move forward. We drove for about an hour, then stopped. The radio broke the silence: one of the tanks had a visual on 15 enemies, it asked for permission to engage them.Wait, you need to wait, everybody has to be ready. The voice came back on the radio: “they are collecting weapons and I think that they will move soon, permission to engage them.”It was still before daybreak when we heard the first explosions. The voice came back again: “Killed three, the other are taking cover.” There we go, I thought. I have covered many wars, much turmoil, and still could not get used to people killing each other. I felt sad.I jumped out of the APC and started to move on with my platoon. Running, watching, filming, running… A lot of bursts, air stike, artillery …The first few hours we went OK, moving forward, slowly. But forward. A lot of air stikes. Apachee helicopters, jets. I was scared of those things, felt very small, very mortal! Every time they come you want to bury yourself into the ground like a rat.We arrived in a ditch, a natural trench, the Taliban were facing us in a sort of compound at about two hundred meters. At the beginning there was silence. Then I recognised the sound of the Kalash. We started to take in a lot of fire. Everybody jumped into the trench.The first round of the artillery landed too short, about 30 metres from us. I learned a few English words when the guys I was with screamed what they where thinking about the Royal Artillery.Then there was fire everywhere, a lot of air strikes, really close, way too close! Could even feel the gusts of those bombs. Then we started to take fire from the right, then the left. One casualty, a second hurt. They were just trying to outflank us!They were counter-attacking with a lot of guys. A perfect manoeuvre, I thought. It had happened a couple of times before that I had had those guys running after me, the Taliban, I mean. The sections I was with were trying to extract themselves from the trap. One by one, they were leaving the place, covering each other. Left with the first one.Running, running, no pictures, just praying.I found myself almost at the place where we started. Everybody was trying to recover his breath. One guy was carrying the helmet of the guy who had been killed, he was looking at the floor.After dark we went back somewhere in the desert, to the guns line. I wondered who had fired the first round…Nowhere to sleep. Set up a canvas, slept on the floor with all my clothes on, long day.At 6 I could no longer sleep, I had to move, too cold. Ice everywhere, everything was white. The sun was coming up, beautiful.If you have any questions for Laurent please use the comment box. Click through to see his first and second postings.
Material gathered by Laurent includes: