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Experiences in Afghanistan – Outlet talk

Afghanistan, Iraq, IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), Mortar Bombs are not generally topics of conversation that is expected to be heard in a Methodist Church on a Monday evening in 
early spring.

On Monday 17th April, Claire Cobbett gave a talk about her experiences working for the TA over a period of over 15 years. She emphasized that it is important to remember that 'fighting' is only a small (but vital) part of the Armies work. A lot of their work also involves setting up infrastructure i.e – water supply, lighting, communication systems etc.

In civilian life, Claire had been working for the Environment Agency on flood protection work. She volunteered for the Royal Engineers section of the TAs (now the Army Reserves) in order to learn about Well drilling. She was called up to serve during the first Iraq war. She actually volunteered to serve in Afghanistan. On both occasions, her role was to work on the water supply issues within the area she was based in. She was also operating as a liaison officer between the military and the local communities so had to learn how to work with interpreters and local customs etc. This part of the role was more 'successful' in Iraq than Afghanistan.

She described several hair-raising events and also passed a piece of shrapnel that had pierced a water tank for us all to hold. It was very heavy and also very sharp and really showed just how much damage shrapnel can and could do.

All and all, it was an exceptionally interesting evening – and very thought provoking. It made us all think how lucky we are to live in what is a (relatively) peaceful country and how important it is that we work to maintain it.

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