Sangin: Change of Command, and change of clothes

Source:  MoD News

Responsibility for and command of the Sangin Area of Operations has officially been transferred from 3rd Battalion The Rifles (3 RIFLES) to 40 Commando Royal Marines. 

(And, as you can see in the accompanying photos, the Marines are sporting the new Multi-Terrain Pattern camouflage combat clothing – click on the photos to enlarge them to full size.)

Over the last few weeks, Royal Marine Commandos and attached ranks have been arriving in Forward Operating Base (FOB) Jackson in Helmand province and have been receiving comprehensive handovers from their counterparts in 3 RIFLES.

The Area of Operations was formally handed over to Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer of 40 Commando Royal Marines, by the Commanding Officer of 3 RIFLES, Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson.

The Commandos will be based in Sangin and in the other associated FOBs and Patrol Bases (PBs) for the next six months where they will continue to provide security to the region, mentor the Afghan National Police, partner the Afghan National Army, and enable the continuation of reconstruction projects in the area.

Just prior to 3 RIFLES departing from Helmand province, they, together with their Afghan partners, hosted a ‘thank you and farewell’ shura involving key members of the local community and was also used to welcome members of 40 Commando Royal Marines to Sangin.

The shura incorporated a meal and much reciting of achievements as well as praise for the progress that 3 RIFLES have made during their six-month tour in the north eastern corner of Helmand province.

The Commandos have already made a number of minor cultural changes around the FOBs and PBs to put their Royal Marine stamp on them. Army phrases have been replaced with Royal Navy terms – toilets have been renamed ‘heads’, the ‘cookhouse’ has become the ‘galley’, ‘brews’ have become ‘wets’ and ‘scoff’ (meals) has become ‘scran’.

This has all caused much amusement amongst their partners in the Afghan Police and Army, as well as locally employed nationals and interpreters, who all live within the bases and work with the Commandos every day.

For around a third of the Commandos, this is their second, third or even fourth deployment to the Sangin area and these Marines all commented on the significant changes that had taken place since they were last in the area.

The vibrant bazaar, which is a matter of a few hundred metres from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Operating Base, is one of the most significant signs of progress achieved by the 3 RIFLES Battle Group throughout their tour.

The locals and children are becoming increasingly friendly and comfortable with the presence of ISAF troops and their Afghan partners. The children are even starting to talk to and play with the troops.

[Pictures: LA(Phot) Si Ethell, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]

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