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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Afghanistan | International
Deployed to Afghanistan's 'Hell'
In the first ever land deployment outside Europe for Nato forces led by the UK and Canada, 8,000 soldiers are now positioned in six of Afghanistan's southern provinces. Helmand province, in particular, has been the scene of heavy violence.
In the fierce heat of the Kandahar summer, eking out what little shade I could while waiting by the runway for a military flight, I got chatting to a British soldier.
He was on his way to what here they call "Hell"... the itchingly sandy and repressively hot Camp Bastion in the Helmand desert, miles from the nearest town, where sandstorms can last for days and where thousands of British troops are now based.
"When I joined up 10 years ago," he said, "people rarely knew anyone who had died in action. Now, pretty much everyone you speak to knows someone who's been killed here or in Iraq."
Helmand is not a pleasant place to be.
It is not only hot and dusty, but as a heartland for the Taleban and the biggest producer of opium poppies in the country, it is also a very dangerous place.
Counting the days
I spoke to a medic about how she was getting on.
"Eight weeks to go before R and R (rest and recuperation)," she said.
I smiled and added that most troops I spoke to knew exactly the number of days they had left on their tour.