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Last Updated: Monday, 28 April 2008, 05:11 GMT 06:11 UK
Afghanistan diary: day two
Newsbeat's Tulip Mazumdar and Andy Brownstone are in Afghanistan for a special series of programmes looking at life on the front line for British soldiers and seeing how things have changed for the ordinary people of Afghanistan. In the second instalment of their diary, Andy describes the work of the engineers who fix everything in the camp, from guns to tanks.

Engineers with a tool kit
Someone should have got breakdown cover...

The aircon in our tent has been fixed. When I say fixed, what I actually mean is that one of the officers came in and turned it on.

So I'm considerably more comfortable than I was this time yesterday.

I'm still amazed at the logistics of how this camp exists out here.

It's literally in the middle of nowhere, which is great from a security point of view (because you can see your enemy coming), but I'm staggered at how they have air con, hot showers, bacon butties and a Pizza Hut.

Craftsman Gary Mee
Craftsman Gary Mee is one of around 300 engineers

I was kept awake last night by what seemed to be a constant stream of Chinook helicopters landing and taking off.

Pretty much everything on camp has to be flown in, but you'd think they'd put a curfew on the number of night flights.

Today we spent some time with a great bunch of guys from REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers).

There's around 300 of them here, which is about 10% of the camp population, and they basically fix everything. From the sight on your rifle, right the way through to the huge recovery vehicles.

It's hardcore work, seven days a week, 12 hours a day, all year round. With more and more attacks on British troops coming from IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), they've certainly got their work cut out for them.

Sign
The engineer's sense of humour. What is an echelon anyway?

Any vehicle that gets blown up, or breaks down, has to be recovered, so the Taleban don't get their hands on it.

And when you go out to pick something up, you have to be accompanied by a convoy of armoured vehicles to protect you.

Otherwise, the Taleban attack the vehicles sent out to recover the wreckage.

But despite the long hours, the suffocating heat (it's 50% hotter when you're next to the ground, so imagine what it's like on your back under a tank all day) and the constant threat every time they take to the road, Camp Bastion simply wouldn't be able to operate without them.

I'm slowly beginning to realise that the army isn't just men with guns. It's a huge machine, and these guys are some of the major cogs that help it along.



SEE ALSO
Afghanistan diary: day one
Monday, 28 April 2008, 05:11 GMT |  Newsbeat
Afghanistan diary: day three
Monday, 28 April 2008, 17:16 GMT |  Newsbeat
The dogs taking on the Taleban
Monday, 28 April 2008, 15:39 GMT |  Newsbeat
British forces 'treat injured Taleban'
Monday, 28 April 2008, 05:11 GMT |  Newsbeat
In pictures: Camp Bastion hospital
Monday, 28 April 2008, 05:11 GMT |  The P Word
'I survived a bomb attack'
Monday, 28 April 2008, 09:12 GMT |  Newsbeat


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