Colonel Waggett’s experiences in Afghanistan
Colonel Waggett came and talked to us mainly about his experience of undertaking military operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban and the rise of the newest threat to the western world - Isis.
Colonel Waggett was very experienced, having been in the army for 20 years, and he briefly told us of his various experiences after being commissioned as an officer form Sandhurst. He had served in many operations in his career, including roles as a peace keeper in the terrible Bosnian civil war, where he and his men could do little to intervene in some of the terrible things going on around them. In Northern Ireland they also came across religious division, and his job was more often than not to keep Protestant and Catholic apart – something we might find curious living in the safety of Dunbar.
After this brief introduction he began to talk about his most recent posting to Afghanistan. He clearly explained why America and Britain had decided to intervene in the first place and gave a firsthand account of what it was like leading his squadron and having to try and build bridges with the Afghan locals. He showed us the range of technology and vehicles he had in his squadron, and there were some really clever ones, like radios which they could tune into the airwaves and hear the Taliban speaking to each other! We managed to see video of him and his men in a fire-fight with Taliban insurgents and he explained that although many Afghans want a ‘normal’ life, they were often too terrified to speak to the British as later that night a letter threatening death would be posted on their doors by the Taliban. We appreciated the great cost to life when he talked about some of his experiences, and were amazed to hear him tell us that children of our age were carrying and using Kalashnikov machine guns.
He finished by talking about finally leaving Afghanistan after a 9 month operation and dwelt on the rise and threat of Isis. The talk went on for a little longer than expected, but when Mr MacAskill said we could leave or stay and ask questions, not a soul moved and Colonel Waggett fielded another half hour’s worth of questions. It was a great lecture with many of Col. Waggett’s own photographs and video, and he made a subject we only read about in papers come alive.