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Last Updated: Monday, 28 April 2008, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Afghanistan diary: day three
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 third instalment of their diary, Andy describes his experience behind the wheel of tank.

Mastiff
The Army has more than 100 of the Mastiff armoured vehicles
Bit cloudy today. Well, by desert standards anyway. And I've learned a new military phrase; "Op Bronze", as in Operation Bronze.

This is where you haul your camp bed out into the sunshine, strip off your kit and get some serious tanning in.

Apparently a few of the US marines got a ticking off for getting caught in just their socks. And they weren't on their feet...

I got a tour of the camp today in the back of a tank. It had a more complicated name than that which I forgot to write down because I was too excited.

I stood out the top of the hatch wearing my shrapnel-proof sunnies, helmet and earpiece.

It was great fun, but I wouldn't fancy being inside one with the hatches down in this heat.

They let me use the gun controls, but fortunately it wasn't loaded because my sweaty hand slipped and accidentally hit the trigger.

If you go out in a vehicle here, everybody says you need to be in a Mastiff. They cost around a million pounds, and have been developed to combat the threat of roadside explosives.
Lance Corporal Jamie Dougal
L/Cpl Dougal says he wouldn't be here without the Mastiff

The Taleban have become masters of the IED (Improvised Explosive Device), but the Mastiff has been tested by driving over mines - and it's come up top trumps.

I met Lance Corporal Jamie Dougal who was in a Mastiff which was attacked. It rolled over a pressure pad and detonated a roadside explosion.

The whole vehicle, which weighs a good few tonnes, was lifted off the ground. Jamie was in the gunners hatch and got thrown into the air, and then landed on top of the vehicle.

His colleagues inside were fine, he was choppered back to the hospital at Bastion where his cuts and bruises were patched up.

He reckons if he'd have been in any other vehicle, he'd probably be dead. The Mastiffs have proved to be so popular, they're hoping to get another 120 produced so they can start to phase out the other vehicles which aren't as safe.

When we head out of here soon, I know where I'd rather be sitting...



SEE ALSO
Afghanistan diary: day one
Monday, 28 April 2008, 05:11 GMT |  Newsbeat
Afghanistan diary: day two
Monday, 28 April 2008, 05:11 GMT |  Newsbeat
'I survived a bomb attack'
Monday, 28 April 2008, 09:12 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
The dogs taking on the Taleban
Monday, 28 April 2008, 15:39 GMT |  Newsbeat


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