Even When We’re All Riding Our Luck
Riding in a convoy through Khost City, here I am as a “passenger” in the back of a US mil Hummer while working as a media security adviser.
Body armour, full (grunt style) ballistic helmet, patrol glasses (to protect against flame/heat), tourniquet in side pocket. Map, radio, cell phone, sat phone comms and satnav on my person and not in my run bag. (Should those items be in the run bag, and on exiting the vehicle in an emergency, I get it caught and ripped open, then I’ve lost the ability to communicate and navigate…yes, even while embedded with the military.) Day sack containing trauma pack for my team and I.
Fingers and toes crossed and feeling extremely vulnerable.
As much as a security adviser to a media team can prepare by being proactive…giving “before patrol” briefs, “during patrol” briefs, being in comms by radio, having the right “actions on” and having the right kit, there’s just some circumstances where LUCK is either on your side…or not!
Thankfully for the whole convoy that day while operating in an extremely hostile area, against the possibility of IED’s, suicide bombers and heavy weapon ambushes, LUCK remained on our side.
Our convoy slowly edging through traffic, people, and a busy market in Khost city.
Just because we’re embedded with the military doesn’t mean that it’s time for me to take a breather and just attend for the ride. Quite the opposite…as the military is THE target.
My two journalists were in the Hummer in front of me. Despite being part of a multi vehicle convoy, I was able to get my Hummer crew to act as a “second vehicle” for the media lads to cross deck into should the need arise…thanks to a very accommodating and flexible common sense group of soldiers. Initially they wanted to split the three of us up by having one in each Hummer.
Sitting back and allowing the military to dictate where the media are to be located is not an ideal option. If the SHTF it’ll be all guns blazing, and immediate attention on the enemy…and rightly so. My job is to look after my media team first and foremost. With the right mindset and approach, most of the time, that can be put over to the military. Good professional soldiers will respect and understand that, and therefore allow us all to fit in accordingly to make it work for everyone.
Prior to the move, I even got to talk with the commanders about vehicle drills for “actions on” that may concern the journalists having to cross deck…they too were very keen to get it right. They understood the need for them to travel together in order to carry out their news gathering operation, once it was all explained to them.
An interesting and enjoyable few days with a great media team understanding just why they need to listen, take it all in and act…given the dangers of a simple road move, and an equally great bunch of young eager to learn US soldiers of all ranks.
US Army Hummer convoy move.
Khost City area, Khost Province, Afghanistan.