Teenage British soldiers go on tour in Afghanistan
Page last updated at 06:05 GMT, Wednesday, 16 February 2011
- Young British soldiers in Afghanistan have been telling Newsbeat about their experiences of serving in the army. John Bryant, who is 18 and from Hamilton, is serving with The Royal Highland Fusiliers.
- He joined when he was 16, but says age has never been an issue and he doesn't get treated differently. Conditions are basic though: "If you're lucky you get a camp bed, unlucky you sleep on the floor in tents, or mud buildings."
- He says the job has made him more mature and that he's inspired a few of his mates to join up. But he admits he still enjoys going home on leave to see his family and have "a good scoff".
- John carries the weapons system – the M249 Minimi light machine gun - which means he often has to cover the patrol leader while he moves forward and scans the ground for IEDs.
- "There've been quite a few contacts," says John. "It comes down to me to suppress the enemy while the section can get out the way." Carrying all the kit is hard work though - with his weapon, body armour, and full day pack he says it weighs about 80kg.
- Another young soldier from The Royal Highland Fusiliers is Jody Herkes. He joined the army straight from school and was deployed to Afghanistan three days after his 18th birthday.
- Jody, (at the front of this patrol), says he's enjoying the responsibility and rewards: "Most of my civvy pals are just at college or in a boring job. None of them are doing what I'm doing, making the same money as I'm making."
- He says his mum gives him a lot of support and sends him parcels of treats to keep up his morale: "She sends me about three a week... noodles and stuff she knows I like - sweeties and that, stuff that'll cheer me up." (All photos by Sergeant Rupert Frere).