Patrick Bishop
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
n April 2006, the elite 3 Para battlegroup was dispatched to Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. They were tasked with providing security to reconstruction efforts, a deployment it was hoped would pass off without a shot being fired. In fact, over the six months they were there, the 3 Para battle group saw near continuous combat – one gruelling battle after another – in what would become one of the most extraordinary campaigns ever fought by British troops.

Around parched, dusty outposts reliant on a limited number of helicopters for food and ammunition resupply, troops were subjected to relentless Taliban attacks, as well as energy-sapping 50 degree heat and spartan conditions. At the end of the tour, the Taliban offensive aimed at driving the British and Afghan Government troops out of Helmand had been tactically defeated. But 3 Para paid a high price: fourteen soldiers and one interpreter were killed, and 46 wounded.

‘3 Para’ will tell the stories of the men and women who took part in this extraordinary and largely unreported saga. Best-selling author Patrick Bishop has been given exclusive access to the soldiers whose tales of courage and endurance provide an unforgettable portrait of one of the world's finest and most fascinating fighting regiments, and a remarkable band of warriors. Their bravery was reflected in the array of gallantry medals that were bestowed on their return, including the Victoria Cross awarded to Corporal Bryan Budd and the George Cross won by Corporal Mark Wright, both of whom were killed winning their awards.

I picked up a first edition copy of the book from 2007 as I thought that it would be an interesting read and perhaps amusing to review here on Arrse.

With the benefit of hindsight and time passed it was interesting and quite satisfying to read the story of 3 Paras tour of 2006 and particularly the stories around A coy. When first published it was "hot off the press" Patrick Bishop is a foreign correspondent of many years standing and he interviewed a lot of bods to garner the information herein , don't take this the wrong way but it almost seems as if he wasn't there himself but was reporting back , in correspondent style he tells a very good factual story with no ally frills.

He told us way back then that the Paras went to Helmand to do a specific job but were soon knocked off task by the intervening politics , good soldiers badly used. However the lads performed admirably despite the lack of air cover supplies and a coherent plan, it tells us quite clearly what history proved to be correct that the war was lost almost as soon as it started. Our soldiers killed many many more of the enemy than perhaps they are given credit for but in this campaign it wasnt all about burying the Taliban. Hearts and minds comes to mind as in give me your hearts and minds or we will burn your hooch down! If not specifically activated upon it amounted to the same thing when the overstretched Brits under Canadian command could never consolidate a situation to enable the infrastructure rebuilding that was promised.

A classic story of having to support the regional governor caused A company to abandon a rehearsed and planned for operation to fly miles away and rescue the ANP who were under mortal attack, but when they arrived at the location all was sweetness and light the police promptly set about getting some drugs and sleep down them ! Then the Paras were sent to Sangin on a 24 hour operation which in the event lasted until the end of the tour !

The civil teams who were supposed to rebuild the villages and towns would not be seen with the soldiers and when the soldiers weren't around couldn't then do the work in fear of their lives. Thus the poor Afghan peasant was put between a rock and a very hard place because to be seen helping ISAF meant death torture and destruction which was exactly the result of the Armies having to go in to places like Sangin to clear out the Talibs. The poor villager was stuffed either way he turned. So in conclusion it was clear as a bell back then to see that the operation was out of kilter but we still plodded on doing the same thing till the government managed to pull the military out . Its outrageous that our troops were so badly used by the positions of all shaded local domestic and Our United Stated allies . so so many resemblances to the Viet Nam war, However it is with a lot of pride that we saw our troops perform miracles under such hamstringing conditions god bless the poor ole Toms. A very good read worth four mushroom heads.

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