NATO TV joins Bravo company from 2-87 infantry (The Catamounts), 10th Mountain Division for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the mountains of east Afghanistan on OP-English.
The soldiers are two months into a nine month deployment; for many of them it's their first foreign tour of duty and the first christmas away from home. They'll be spending Christmas and New Year on a tiny Observation Post where temperatures drop to 12 fairenheit (-11 Celsius) at night, and where they'll spend their days digging into the hillside further and filling blast walls with earth over the festive season. This will be the last christmas in Afghanistan for the vast majority of NATO troops in the country.
But as the troops wake up on Christmas morning, not only has Santa managed to sneak past the sentries, but battalion commander Lt Col. Ryan Beckno visits them bringing with him a Turkey christmas dinner.
For the troops living on MRE (Meals Ready to Eat), Christmas day brings a huge respite.
1. (00:00) VARIOUS SHOTS: The soldiers of 2/87 bravo company are tasked to dig in further over Christmas eve and spend the evening filling sand bags and shoring up the base’s defences. They will be handing over the small platoon sized base in the spring to Afghan security forces.
2. (00:35) Wide Shots: As Christmas eve draws in, the temperature on the mercury drops rapidly. It’s going to be a long night for the soldiers pulling guard duty.
3. (01:04) TIMELAPSE: STARS OVER OP ENGLISH. The temperature falls to 12 degrees Fahrenheit during Christmas Eve.
4. (01:12) SOUNDBITE: SPECIALIST MITCHELL FORBES, talks about home during the festive season while pulling guard duty at night despite the temperature falling to around 14 degrees Farenheit.
“Hi my name is Specialist Mitchell Forbes from Arlington Texas, I’m now pulling tower guard on OP-English in Logar Afghanistan. If I was home, I would rather much be….it’s Christmas eve and I’m a last minute shopper so I suppose I’d be braving the crowds and get some last minute gift cards…I’m not that inventive.”
“Just what I most about home is the small things, a warm bed to sleep in, the food definitely. Friends, family my girlfriend and just the small things you take for granted, day to day things, like showers on a daily basis.”
“Merry Christmas Mum Dad, Megan, Shelley, Maggy, love you all. I’ll see you in a few months.”
5. (2.17) STATIC SHOTS: In the morning Santa has come to visit the troops and left the stockings on the end of their cots, but more importantly their battalion commander arrives armed with a Turkey dinner to help spread some holiday spirit.
6. (02:30) SOUNDBITE: Lt. Col Ryan Beckno (Battalion Commander, 2-87 Infantry)
“It’s a beautiful Christmas Day in Logar province Afghanistan and the mission continues, we’re continuing the retrograde of our people and equipment, out of the country as the ANSF, the Afghan National Security Forces continue to be in the lead and secure their country.”
7. (02:47) GENERAL SHOTS AND SOUNDBITES: The soldiers are served their Christmas dinner of Turkey, Yams, Macaroni-Cheese and pecan pie.
8. (03:34) SOUNDBITE: Captain Luke Hallsten (Company Commander, Baker Company, 2-87 Infantry) from Orlando, Florida.
“Being deployed during the holiday season, is difficult, but it’s good to have soldiers and friends here. The Army is one big family, just having that camaraderie amongst ourselves helps, obviously we do miss out families back home, but being here isn’t all that bad.