Archives for December 2012

Cheer up grumpy pants...

Greg James | 14:54 UK time, Sunday, 16 December 2012

Just touched down in the UK after a mammoth 24 hours worth of flights and waiting.  Exhausted but still buzzing from last week.  Absolutely incredible.  I really hope you enjoyed listening to it all as much a I enjoyed bringing it to you.  I'll never forget it.

On our travels, we made this little video to show the boys and girls serving this Christmas that we're all thinking of them and think they're all bloody brilliant.

Bedtime for me.  Knackered. Back on the radio at 4pm Tuesday...

Please share this with anyone you might think will enjoy it.  Maybe a grumpy friend...

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

The final day in the desert...

Greg James | 08:16 UK time, Friday, 14 December 2012

It's been a tough morning to be honest. 

I was treated to 'FOB Friday'  FOB stands for Forward Operating Base and it's where soldiers are sent out of Camp Bastion and deployed on missions.  These bases are more remote and aren't as advanced so as a 'punishment' for getting up late - Sqaudron Leader Travis made me use this for my 'business':

After a ration pack for breakfast, we headed out to the Air Traffic Control Tower.  A high pressure environment to say the least.  Mainly due to the variety of aircraft that take off and land.  Constantly.

 

I crept off to US Camp 'Leatherneck' for a bit of pampering after my punishment:
Then onto meet the BRF - The 'Bridgade Reconnaissance Force'.  These guys are hand selected from their units and are highly skilled.  They are, in essence, the best soldiers in the army - they train together for 18 months before deploying to Afghanistan.

 

Very tough and incredibly well trained soldiers.  The cream of the crop. They do the exciting action stuff on the ground.
I got up early this morning to see them deploy to an actual operation.  60 soldiers sent out on a secret mission on these two Chinnock helicopters, flanked by Apache attack helicopters (the ones Prince Harry flies).  My week of messing around doing the training was truly put into context when I saw this:

 

I thought about joining them but thought I'd probably get in the way:

 

 

***If you are leaving a comment on this blog, please do not leave any information that could lead to the identification of an individual. Doing so would break our house rules and unfortunately we would have to delete the comment.

If you would like to send Greg a message to pass on to anyone serving in Afghanistan, please do so by emailing greg.james@bbc.co.uk.

Headmistress Laura from Greg’s show is reading all of them and will pass them onto the team in Afghanistan.***

Mr Bean joins the Army...

Greg James | 12:17 UK time, Thursday, 13 December 2012

I'm trying my best out here but these professional soldiers really are at the peak of physical fitness.  I try to keep up with all this stuff. But I do feel a little inferior muscle-wise. Yesterday I had a day of action:

Starting nice and early with brekkie in the Cook House.  PORRIDGE:

Then off to the Dive Tank with '21Engineers' Regiment:

Then on patrol to an 'Afghan village' (not a real one) as part of the troops training:

 

Me with Captain Kev Cameron and Colour Sergeant Darren Armstrong in the 'Afghan village'...Getting used to this army lark:

 

Then off to build a bridge.  As you do...

 

We did it! In 26 minutes! 

 

This is an amazing skill that they have to use in the field.  Not necessarily in dangerous situations but for logistical reasons.  Get me with the lingo!  I'm learning SO much this week.  Hope you're all enjoying it...

***If you are leaving a comment on this blog, please do not leave any information that could lead to the identification of an individual. Doing so would break our house rules and unfortunately we would have to delete the comment.

If you would like to send Greg a message to pass on to anyone serving in Afghanistan, please do so by emailing greg.james@bbc.co.uk.

Headmistress Laura from Greg’s show is reading all of them and will pass them onto the team in Afghanistan.***

One of the most dangerous jobs going...

Greg James | 13:07 UK time, Wednesday, 12 December 2012

This is a seriously difficult and dangerous job.  The specialists who seek out and destroy IEDs (basically horrible stuff that explodes).  They are the EOD and Search Task Force.  And they're brilliant.

It requires great patience, care and skill to detect and destroy these nasty things and these people are true heroes.  They will clear the way for the ground troops to advance or cross a mined area for example.

They sometimes use these 'robots' in cases when it's just too dangerous to send humans any closer.  I had a go...

The team. Nice lunnnnnge:
Here's another talented team who look after Military Working Dogs.  Looooook cute dogggggies! (The attack dogs will rip your arms off)
While I'm here...A lot of people are asking me what our accommodation looks like.  Basic but I'm not too precious. Well...Maybe a bit.

***If you are leaving a comment on this blog, please do not leave any information that could lead to the identification of an individual. Doing so would break our house rules and unfortunately we would have to delete the comment.

If you would like to send Greg a message to pass on to anyone serving in Afghanistan, please do so by emailing greg.james@bbc.co.uk.

Headmistress Laura from Greg’s show is reading all of them and will pass them onto the team in Afghanistan.***

Naked Marines...

Greg James | 20:49 UK time, Tuesday, 11 December 2012

At Lashkar Gah the other day, they put on a very impressive talent show which they asked me to judge.  I told them it would be an honour. And it was. In many ways. It was also utterly surreal as the following video illustrates:

The eventual winners were the naked Marine boyband from 40 Commando.  The boyband in question: 'Essence'.  Keep an eye out for them.

 

***If you are leaving a comment on this blog, please do not leave any information that could lead to the identification of an individual. Doing so would break our house rules and unfortunately we would have to delete the comment.

If you would like to send Greg a message to pass on to anyone serving in Afghanistan, please do so by emailing greg.james@bbc.co.uk.

Headmistress Laura from Greg’s show is reading all of them and will pass them onto the team in Afghanistan.***

Do as Daniel Craig does...

Greg James | 13:01 UK time, Tuesday, 11 December 2012

When Bond came for a visit a few weeks ago, he got to drive some cool stuff.  I'm a lucky boy, because so did I...

I was also given MORE access to some mega trucks...Although fun, it was incredibly difficult and showed me just how skilled these guys and gals have to be to operate them. Vehicles like the ones in this post are so important not just in the field to carry troops and supplies but also back at the base moving containers, other vehicles and machinery. I was just messing about but imagine having to control these machines in high pressure, dangerous environments...Tough. Very tough.

 

 

Please read, lovely people:

***If you are leaving a comment on this blog, please do not leave any information that could lead to the identification of an individual. Doing so would break our house rules and unfortunately we would have to delete the comment.

If you would like to send Greg a message to pass on to anyone serving in Afghanistan, please do so by emailing greg.james@bbc.co.uk.

Headmistress Laura from Greg’s show is reading all of them and will pass them onto the team in Afghanistan.***

Afghan 'banter'...

Greg James | 07:43 UK time, Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Obviously being in a desert, the internet is patchy at best so I'm sorry for the delay on another blog. Rest assured, we're all working our socks off trying to bring you the clearest picture of this place as we can!

Just before I pop off to visit more wonderful people in Camp Bastion.  Here are some of my favourite photos so far from the trip.  Including an incredible night at Main Operating Base 'Lashkar Gah' the other night at the 'Lash Has Got Talent'...Mad night where I got felt up by a bearded man dressed as a lady with balloons as boobs.

This is sunset at the base in one of the look out towers called 'Sangars'.  They look out on the city of Lashkar Gah, protecting people as they go about their daily lives.  I saw some children playing football.  They weren't very good - but the pitch was mainly dust and rocks.

 

'The stage is set for Lash Got Talent':

 

Everyone is ready for the big show:
A genuinely moving scene as the choir sing Christmas Carols.  I was very tired so I almost got predictably emotional. I'll never forget that moment though - serenity in a warzone.  The Black Rats choir! Check out the carol sheets:
At the end of my Lashkar Gah visit with Captain Rob and Major Laurence.  At ease, gentlemen:

 

Sara Cox asked for the classic pose.  Here it is.  Me with the Transport Troop:
They let me drive this.  Unbelivably:

We popped to see the Dental Centre earlier and what a lovely Christmassy bunch they were.  This is me with Jo, Lizzy and Big Dental Dave by the fire.  It's 19 degrees today. The fire is made out of cardboard:

One of the brilliant hard-working ambulance crews:

 

 

Phew. That's just a tiny selection. I have got so much stuff I want to show you all!  More fun stuff and another celebrity well-wisher today from 4pm LIVE from Afghanistan!

BY THE WAY:

***If you are leaving a comment on this blog, please do not leave any information that could lead to the identification of an individual. Doing so would break our house rules and unfortunately we would have to delete the comment.

If you would like to send Greg a message to pass on to anyone serving in Afghanistan, please do so by emailing greg.james@bbc.co.uk.

Headmistress Laura from Greg’s show is reading all of them and will pass them onto the team in Afghanistan.***

A journey in a helicopter. With the door open.

Greg James | 05:38 UK time, Monday, 10 December 2012

Good morning! It's 10am here or as the military would say... 1000 hours.  

We've slept finally. A bit.  I am having the most fascinating experience ever. More on this later...

To continue the story then, I'm now back in 'Camp Bastion' (our home for the week) after an overnight trip to another military base nearby called 'Lashkar Gah'.  Here's a bit of interesting information about the area...

Lashkar Gah is the Capital city of Helmand Province and is the Task Force Helmand HQ and is also home to civilians at the base.  This includes 1 Lancs, Royal Dragoon Guards, Provincial Reconstruction Team (civilians) and a few Danish.

There were no British run flights there (its about 30km) away so we managed to blag our way onto a US Marine helicopter called an 'Osprey'.  Below is me with the pilot. The wind makes it look like I have wobbly goat legs.

Below is the journey.  The marine on board said 'Hold on to your bags because they might fall out the back'. I was thinking of saying: "CLOSE THE DOOR THEN'.

 

When I arrived, I spent a fascinating day with everyone at Lashkar Gah, went to their radio station, did a horrible fitness test, interviewed a Brigadier, went to a look out tower or in military speak - a 'sangar' - and judged a talent competition.  It was a full on day!  I'll tell you all about it this afternoon from 4 LIVE from Afghanistan!

***If you are leaving a comment on this blog, please do not leave any information that could lead to the identification of an individual. Doing so would break our house rules and unfortunately we would have to delete the comment.

If you would like to send Greg a message to pass on to anyone serving in Afghanistan, please do so by emailing greg.james@bbc.co.uk.

Headmistress Laura from Greg’s show is reading all of them and will pass them onto the team in Afghanistan.***

Good morning Afghanistan!

Greg James | 02:42 UK time, Sunday, 9 December 2012

Good morning lovely people!  I am sat in the 'departure lounge' (hut) at the American Flight Line because today we're visiting another base - Lashkar Gah.  More details on that tomorrow...

LIVE IMAGE OF ME TYPING:

 

So then. Afghanistan.  I'm here and I've had 5 hours sleep since Friday.  We left RAF Brize Norton early on Saturday morning and after a 7 hour flight to a secret location, I met some of the fire fighter chaps and had a little go on the hose whilst we waited for the flight to Camp Bastion.  I had to:

 

 

We then boarded the C17 Globemaster jet to get us to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. 

 

The C17 is an absolute beaut.  Look at it. I want one to travel around in all the time. It feels like the most robust, safe and most importantly cool thing in the world.

 

It's normally used to take tanks, trucks, supplies and even helicopters all over the world but sometimes used to take hundreds of troops.  Imagine a normal jumbo jet with NONE of the comfort, screens, air hostesses or reading lights.  You're sat in a shell and it is insane. A massive thank you to legendary pilot and co-pilot Stubbsy and Chaz and the rest of the crew for inviting us up to the cockpit for takeoff.

Video of this to come...

Below, is me arriving at Camp Bastion as we walked out the back of the plane.  This will be the most surreal week of my life I think.  Only been here a day and met some incredible people and it is SO interesting.

 

Keep checking back on the blog - I'm going to chuck up as much stuff as I can from this week's adventure...
Let me know in the comments below if there's anything you want to see or learn more about and I'll explore!
Ps. This was breakfast.  6am US Marine veggie lasagne. Yum.
 

***If you are leaving a comment on this blog, please do not leave any information that could lead to the identification of an individual. Doing so would break our house rules and unfortunately we would have to delete the comment.

If you would like to send Greg a message to pass on to anyone serving in Afghanistan, please do so by emailing greg.james@bbc.co.uk.

Headmistress Laura from Greg’s show is reading all of them and will pass them onto the team in Afghanistan.***

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