Book Reviewer

Four BV 206s move along the ridge on their way to delivering supplies.
From Defencenet:
British commando engineers, who have been building winter shelters for the people of Kashmir, have helped rescue a much needed aid convoy which had been stranded by the heavy snow.

On 4 January 2006 members of 59 Independent Squadron RE and Royal Marines were tasked with delivering kerosene and two generators to two Pakistan Military locations cut off by snow since New Year's Eve. Using four BV 206 all-terrain vehicles the engineers trail blazed through blocked mountain tracks along a ridge line to the villages of Mallot and Rangola (7,000 ft).
After delivering their stores they began the return journey to their base camp at Bagh. However on the way back they discovered that a massive rock fall had blocked the road. With no way of getting past and further rock falls occurring throughout the afternoon the team were forced to double back, and stayed over night at Rangola.
The following morning they set off to the opposite end of the ridge to the village of Ringoli. There they discovered an eleven vehicle convoy carrying food aid from the Irish charity, GOAL, which had been abandoned since a blizzard on New Year's Eve had cut off the road. With the use of the BVs the engineers began clearing a number of the aid tractors to the side of the road to allow supplies through, and rescued some of the vehicles which were perilously close to plummeting over the cliffs.

A jack-knifed tractor and trailer hangs precariously over the ridge [Picture: MOD].
Mr Stewart Mead, the Logistics Manager for GOAL, had made his way up the ridge on foot to try and retrieve some of the vehicles when he came across the Engineers retrieving his vehicles. He said:
"We were carrying thirty tonnes of food up here on New Year's Eve. After the delivery the blizzard hit, some of the vehicles jack-knifed and that was the road blocked, so we had to walk sixteen km back down.

"All the vehicles are being leased for this relief operation so it is expensive for a charity like ours to have them not in use, let alone destroyed! We are very indebted to the British Army - I could not believe my eyes when I saw them pulling out vehicles when I walked round the track."

Having recovered four of the worst affected vehicles and opening up the track, the engineers were able to return to Bagh
Bravo Zulu guys,Happy New Year

Le Chevre


Book Reviewer

Royal Engineers changed the design to incorporate a more slanted roof which allows snow to slide off [Picture: 59 Independent Commando Squadron]
From defenceNet http://defenceintranet.diiweb.r.mil...eBritishForcesBringReliefToEarthquakeZone.htm

Royal Engineer and Navy commandos, based in Bagh, Pakistan since early December 2005, have been building shelters to help protect those affected by October 2005's devastating earthquake.

The more slanted roof allows snow to slide off ensuring the building does not collapse from the weight of snow [Picture: 59 Independent Commando Squadron]
Originally asked by NATO to build 48 single shelters, the team from 59 Independent Commando Squadron Royal Engineers will have constructed 73 by the time they return to the UK in early February 2006. All the shelters have been built at high altitude and in isolated areas.
The shelters, which are helping to protect villagers living at high altitude against the harsh Himalayan winter, are constructed of corrugated iron (CGI) and timber frames. All the materials are locally procured in Bagh, Arja or from Islamabad and transported to the sites. Due to the isolated location of the sites, it has not been possible to procure materials more locally.

Speaking recently, after the first snow fall, one of the location Troop Commanders, Lieutenant David Stead RE, said:

"The winter conditions are really starting to bite now. It is not pleasant to be working and living in this sort of weather, but that is why we are here. All the men are commando trained and know how to cope in these conditions."

The original design for the huts came from the Spanish, and provided a shelter of 6m x 2.5m with a sloping roof. From the outset the Royal Engineers changed the design to incorporate a more slanted roof, using the example of local houses which allows snow to slide off the roofs so as not to collapse under the weight of the snow.

It quickly became apparent that single shelters such as these were fine for storage and perhaps an office, but would be too small for practical use as a classroom or a clinic.
The engineers effectively began putting the single shelters 'back to back' to create more space as a double shelter, with an internal vertical support in the middle. According to the wishes of the local headmaster or health officer, internal walls of CGI and doors could be fitted to create internal office spaces or, in the case of the clinics, private treatment areas.

Further sourcing in the local area led to the procurement of planking, polystyrene and hard board, allowing later shelters to have floor boards and internal insulation cladding. The latest shelter to be completed in the Motan Valley was a 'Double, Double' - a 12m x 12m for a clinic. The shelter has two external doors with shutters and a dividing indoor wall with a door.

Sapper Paul Clark adds:

"It is satisfying to see the appreciation you get from the villagers as you're working. This is a great opportunity to help the situation of these people by using our engineering skills and training."

Transport to the remote construction locations has largely been via road using BV 206s and Land Rovers. The mountain tracks are narrow and often consist of little more than mud and rocks. Following the original earthquake and subsequent tremors many of the tracks have suffered from subsidence and slumping. This has led to some interesting driving conditions, with vertical drops of thousands of feet to the side of the road. The unsettled geological state of the hillsides after the earthquake and freeze-thaw activity from night to day has also created major rock fall dangers.

Another hut is completed [Picture: 59 Independent Commando Squadron]

Travelling by road has not always been possible. In such cases, troops are transported in helicopters provided by the German Army. On occasions landing sites have been some distance from the construction area, which has meant troops carrying stores on their shoulders; in one instance this involved carrying six tonnes over 1 kilometre.
Officer Commanding 59 Independent Commando Squadron, Major Nigel Cribb, said:

"By using NATO's air assets we can successfully help these villages that would otherwise would be inaccessible to wheeled vehicles."

The troops have been living at the locations in tents. Artic four-man tents are used, even though snow has only begun to settle on the ground since the New Year. The construction teams are completely self sufficient in water and food from ration packs. They stay on location for anything between three and nine days before returning to camp in Bagh for administration and a rest before loading stores and heading back out the next day.


stick to it guys - home safe and soon. 8)

Le Chevre

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