I will not say too much about this, but I have been trained in how to accept your release from capture, if the worst happens and nasty 'Jonny Talib' fancies a slice of me. I had imagined naively, like a sickly Hollywood movie, running into the arms of my loved ones, but from the advice I have received it doesn't seem that it's going to be this way. It's possible that the nasty people who took you in the first place will have wired you to some kind of explosive device. This makes the Navy Seals very angry indeed, and they will expect you to appear as contrite as someone caught leaving the back of a sheep. If you have seen the Hurt Locker you will know what I mean. I have been practicing in my room. Looking contrite that is, not exiting a...
I am going to tell you something that you can read, but if you do, you must accept that you have the following choices. You will either have to eat your computer after reading, or face a firing squad, 'ready, shoot, aim'!
We have been on embed with the Estonian contingent here in Helmand. Through their commitment to Nato, they have sent a 'company' and they have done amazing work. In one day, one patrol alone discovered 17 IEDs. I have no idea what your perception may be of this nuanced statistic, but from here it is seen as 'awesome'. Sadly they have suffered their losses also. The platoon that we stayed with, a small band of brothers had lost one of theirs to gunfire, another had become a double amputee. As we patrolled, a small indentation in the burned Helmand earth bore witness to the abject reminder of the frailty of skin and bones.
In many ways their resources do not stand comparison with 'ours', but in one particular aspect of warfare however, we are the poor second cousins. It is, we discovered, enshrined in Estonian Military Law that every member has to have a sauna at least once a week. There was a collective dropping of jaws when we heard this, and those who had served their country for many years felt rightly miffed. So picture this if you can. We get on a Chinook, fly deep into Helmand and land in a dust storm of our own making, at a Patrol Base manned by Estonians. And right there, in the middle of the camp, in the middle of a war, is a Sauna. Well you could put a dress on me and call me Susan, in a myopic world, the Estonians are visionaries.
We soon discovered that the main Estonian Headquarters at Bastion also had its own state-of-the-art sauna, and cordially, and may I say quite excitedly, we were invited to 'sauna' whenever we wished. So on Friday evening, four of us wandered across the dark expanse of Bastion, a towel tucked under our arm, a giddy mood abundant and, well how can I put this, 'got our kit off' in the name of international relations. Being British we were the flabby embarrassed group in the corner, unable to breath and unsure where to look. Being Estonian, they were fit and lean and adept, and they chatted happily and confidently, in no way put off by the six penises dangling on the smouldering wooden slats.
After which we showered, patted ourselves on the back for taking 'one for the team', and drank a complimentary 'near beer' on the veranda. We may be good at winning wars but we have no style in doing so I can tell you that. Now eat your computer!
A.R.O.K: The army is an acronym I have discovered. And it goes like this.
"I say old boy, is Algie Smythington back from seeing SO2 at the PB about the ND in T3?"
"No Sir, he's stuck at the VA. His FUP got tangled with his RSM's PUP".
"Hhmm, that's not good, I once got my TTP stuck in the back of the CO and he wasn't best pleased, didn't speak to me for months, neither did his wife - nasty business"
"Yes Sir, well he has spoken to JMOC and they said they would send Bertie Bavington down with the SSM and some cream, they should be leaving shortly"
"What's the ETA at the CP Cyril"
"I don't know Sir, shall I check with 2 IC about the RV for the EPLS? Coffee Sir?"
"Yes do check Cyril, and Cyril?"
"Tea, two sugars please, and make it creamy"
"Will UHT do Sir, it's all we have?"
"Damn it Cyril, I have told you to never serve me UHT whilst the CQMS is lost at the VP looking for the TLA for the RSOI"
"Sorry Sir, it won't happen again. Semi-skimmed?
"Yes semi-skimmed is fine Cyril. Sorry about that, bit tetchy about the CO finding out about my little bit of S&M with the QRF. You understand don't you?"
"It's fine, really Sir. Your secret is safe with me, I am the very model of OPSEC. You wouldn't be the first CO to FUP over at the CP after lunch with Mrs Bavington. Chocolate Bourbon Sir?"
And so it goes. It would be easier to learn Greek! Oh and A.R.O.K. Acronyms Rule OK.