Battersea journalist back home after fifth tour to Helmand
11:10am Friday 27th April 2012 in Your Say
A female reporter, who has completed five tours in Afghanistan with the British Army, has described going on foot patrol there as "like a game of Russian roulette".
Charlotte Cross, from Battersea, arrived back in the UK in March having spent a month in Helmand province, Afghanistan, working for the British Forces News (BFN) channel on British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS).
The 39-year-old has been working as a reporter for BFBS since 2008 after studying a postgraduate degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Westminster.
Despite the frightening situations she sometimes finds herself in, she believes the rewards are worth the risk.
Miss Cross said: "Operating in Helmand has had its scary moments. Foot patrols are always daunting, with the IED threat ever constant, it feels like a game of Russian roulette.
"You either put your foot down in the right patch of ground, or you don’t.
"On one occasion, I spent some time filming in a tiny checkpoint, which was right on the enemy frontline. The Taliban were literally one hundred metres away on three sides.
"A small group of about 12 soldiers were living there, holding the ground. I was only there for a few hours. They were there for six months.
"A while later, I bumped into one of them, ‘Thanks for doing that report,’ he said, ‘you made us look nails. Who could ask for better feedback than that?"
Miss Cross was first deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 for a six-month tour as a captain in the Territorial Army, with 15 Psychological Operations Group.
She returned to the country twice in 2009 as a reporter to set up the news desk in Camp Bastion, followed by subsequent visits in 2011 and 2012.
She said: "When I arrived in August 2006, there were less than 3,000 British troops across the whole of Helmand, it clearly was not enough.
"Now, in 2012, there are 10,000 troops covering a much smaller area, bolstered by 30,000 American troops covering the rest of Helmand.
"In 2009 it would take us three or four hours to move along a mile of dirt-tracked road, which had to be meticulously cleared for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
"Now you can travel freely along the network of roads, such is the improvement in security."
BFN covers issues of warfare, defence policy and military strategy, as well as informing British troops and their families across the world.
You can watch BFN online at www.bfbs.com/news, on Information TV, via Sky Channel 231 and Freesat Channel 402.