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You are in: South Yorkshire > SY People > Profiles > A Blade in Baghdad

Iraqi children hold a Blades England flag

Baghdad children hold Kev's banner

A Blade in Baghdad

Former marine and lifelong Blades fan Kev Doughty tells us what it's like to live and work in war-torn Baghdad and how supporting Sheffield United helps.

Kev inspects the damage to a car

Kev inspects the damage to a car

Website users from all over the world often get in touch with us to tell us what they're reading, watching or listening to online, but Kev Doughty has an unusual life by any standards.

Baghdad Blade as he's known to many of his friends used the website to keep in touch with Sheffield United's progress during their promotion run all the way from Iraq, even appearing on the phone on Football Heaven. 

Even though he's not a member of the Armed Forces, Kev's chosen to live and work in some of the most dangerous, violent places on earth. We wanted to find out why, and just how you go about supporting your football team in between checking for car bombs. Kev tells us in his own words.

Kev's story

I'm 50 in October, I've been married to Jean from Barnsley for 22 years. We've  lived on the Costa Blanca with our 2 children. Kane 21, and Chantelle 15 for four years.

I'm born and bred in Sheffield and a lifelong Blade.  My father registered me, in what I suppose was something like the junior Blades at 18 months. I lived at Meersbrook, Healey, Abbeydale, the flats at the bottom of the Moor, and for two short periods on Bramall Lane and Shoreham Street. I finished my schooling at Newfield with no qualifications.

Recruitment poster

At 21 I joined the Royal Marine Commandos, after seeing a poster which asked "Do you think you're hard enough," or something along those lines. After six years I joined a special arm of the Marines, and saw service in Northern Ireland, and The Falklands.

I left the Marines in 1989, and went straight into security and protection work. My first job was in Italy looking after children of Italian diplomats.

Sheffield United fans celebrating

Blades fans celebrate at Watford

I went on to work for oil companies setting up camp security in such exotic settings as Turkey, Algeria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Iran.

Keeping it in the family

My brother and I - he´s an ex Para, and still lives in Barnsley with his family - landed in Karachi on 9/11, and were whisked off to the Pakistan/Afghan border. We had no communication with the outside world for ten days. When we eventually got
the lines up and going, Jean got in touch, I told her we were well armed and trained but she wanted me out. It took us a further six days to get safely to Karachi airport.

Ironically, we were both working together again, on the Iran/Iraq border, just 60 kilometres from Baghdad when Operation Iraqi Freedom started. We could see and hear the explosions as the assault on Baghdad went in. We were  working as minefield
guides, for a French oil company. The outbreak of the war put paid to that contract.

I then started working for a Personal Security Detail team, protecting engineers whilst they were working and travelling around Iraq. Mostly around the Northern city of Mosul, and Southern cities of Najaf, and Nasiriyah. The team were involved in several ambushes, and IEDs. An IED is an Improvised Explosive Device.

"The night's sleep is punctuated by the sound of gun fights in the districts around the hotel as well as the helicopters flying low."

Kev Doughty

A company who specialises in Close Protection work then approached me to work for them. I presently look after journalists, and cameramen who work for an American media group.

We live in a hotel within a compound outside of the fortified Green Zone. It has been damaged four times by car bombs in the two years I've been here, but as yet no ground force has attempted to attack us.

A day in the life of Baghdad

My day starts at around midnight, when I collate all of the incidents of the day. Car bombs are running presently at two or three a day and there are suicide bombers, IED murders -  approximately 100 a day in Baghdad and the areas that have seen sectarian violence. Also IDF (indirect fire) mortars, rockets.

The problem with IDF, is that they invariably miss what they are aiming at! Last year a rocket fired at the Green Zone fell short, and hit a block of flats behind the hotel killing a whole family, and injuring dozens more. We heard the rocket as it just missed the ninth floor. We've also had numerous near misses with mortars. I write notes of the incidents ready for the morning meeting.
The night's sleep is punctuated by the sound of gun fights in the districts around the hotel as well as the helicopters flying low trying to "snatch" or kill insurgents laying a roadside IED.

My weapons are laid out in the same place every night so as I can find them in the dark. I feel that if they are to attempt a ground attack they will come in darkness. The attack will be pre-empted with a car bomb or IDF, and will hit the compounds generators first. Mains electricity is four to six hours a day.

At the morning meeting, I brief the staff on the SitReps e-mails, and phone calls that I have made, and received to find out what has happened, and what areas are no-go. I remind them of the procedures if we are hit by a car bomb, IDF and attempted kidnapping ambush or IED. Then we have a daily First Aid refresher on a given topic.

We then decide where to go, and who is going. After I've done a last minute check on the area and route I decide if they can or cannot go. I don't go anywhere without wearing my body armour and weapons.

Kev talks about surviving attack, family life and following the Blades on the second page of this feature. Follow the links below to read on.

This feature represents the personal views and experiences of site user Kev Doughty. For BBC coverage of the conflict in Iraq follow the links to BBC News Online.

last updated: 01/05/2008 at 11:28
created: 27/07/2006

You are in: South Yorkshire > SY People > Profiles > A Blade in Baghdad

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