A JOURNALIST from Sedgemoor is recuperating back home in the UK after her fifth tour to Afghanistan.
Charlotte Cross, 39, originally from Enmore, toured the wartorn country as a Captain in the Territorial Army in 2006 before joining the British Forces Broadcasting Service as an embedded reporter in 2009.
She said: “Having been present right at the start of the Helmand campaign it has been a real privilege to return so often as an objective observer with unhindered access across the whole area of operations.
“When I arrived in August, 2006, there were fewer than 3,000 British troops across the whole of Helmand, and only a handful of Afghan soldiers and police.
“It was clearly not enough.
Now, in 2012, there are 10,000 British troops who are covering a much smaller area, and they are bolstered by 30,000 American troops covering the rest of Helmand.
“The Afghan Aarmy and police have taken over security in some areas completely.
“In 2009 it would take us three or four hours to move along a mile or so of dirttracked road, which had to be meticulously cleared for Improvised Explosive Devices as we went.
“In 2012 you can travel freely along the network of newly black-topped roads, such is the improvement in security.”
The BFBS’s news programmes – British Forces News covers issues of warfare, defence policy and military strategy, as well as informing British troops and their families across the forces world.
Charlotte, whose parents, Roger and Barbara, still live in Enmore, said: “The part of the job I enjoy most is jumping on a helicopter or into the back of vehicle on a road convoy, never quite sure what awaits me when I reach my destination.
“Each base in Afghanistan has its own character – it could be a packed headquarters or a tiny checkpoint in the middle of nowhere with a handful of troops living in the most basic conditions imaginable.
“Wherever I’ve been I’ve only ever received the warmest welcome from troops on the ground who always seem excited to have the TV cameras along with them, recording what they do.
“We’re telling their story to the world, but, more importantly, we’re telling it to their friends and family back home, showing them what their hard work’s achieving.”
You can watch Charlotte on British Forces News online at www.bfbs.com/news, or at 6.30pm on Information TV, available via Sky Channel 231 and Freesat Channel 402.