Skip to comments.UK sergeant still smiling on 3rd tour
Posted on 02/25/2007 12:19:32 PM PST by SandRat
BASRAH — Sergeant Lainey Raw is finding her Army career more challenging than ever as she gets to grips with her third tour of duty with British forces in southern Iraq.
Based at the Contingency Operating Base next to Basrah Airport, Sgt. Raw, 30, is personal assistant to the most senior military officer in southern Iraq, Major General Jonathan Shaw, General Officer Commanding Multi-National Division (South East).
Lainey is responsible for dealing with all the administrative tasks that go with making sure a two-star general can fulfill the task he is in Iraq to do, not least of which is overseeing the operational activity of more than 7,000 military personnel.
So, whats it like being the right-hand woman for a two-star general?
I was selected to deploy after a trawl was advertised to all units within the armed forces. Having experience of serving in Iraq has certainly been an advantage.
As I have worked on previous tours, gaining instructions from commanders up the chain of command, it is interesting to now be in a position to see how matters are handled from the top.
Its harder work than you might imagine, and the hours Lainey works can be long and tiring.
I have gone from administering 120 squadron personnel to administering only one man, the general, but this is even more demanding, she said with a wry smile.
Attention to detail is critical. For example, I am relied upon to make sure helicopters and flights are booked for him; if I put a wrong number down it can result in the aircraft not turning up and the security being jeopardized.
I also work alongside some extremely professional officers and Im gaining valuable experience every day.
But as is the case for all personnel deployed in southern Iraq, Laineys posting is not without its dangers, particularly as she can sometimes find herself traveling with the general to important meetings away from the office.
I am constantly keeping my eyes open and being alert, she explained. But I refuse to allow myself to become scared as this will prevent me from being totally professional or carrying out my job as successfully as I can.
On a previous tour I was in a convoy traveling up the Shatt al Arab waterway when we were contacted by a burst of small arms fire. I immediately told myself this is not my time to go and carried out a defensive position. Being scared is simply not an option.
A keen sportswoman who enjoys running, Lainey counts herself very lucky to have a supportive family. Her parents are in regular touch as are many friends and other family members:
I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful mam and dad, she said. They constantly send letters and small parcels out to me which are such a morale booster. Their love and total support is the main thing that keeps a smile on my face.
I am constantly asked by family and friends when I go home on leave during and after my tours if I believe that the work we are doing here is doing any good, or if I believe that soldiers should be brought home.
All I can say is that I have been in a position to talk to Iraqi people from different communities and see first hand that our presence here in Iraq is doing a lot of good. Whether it be supplying water facilities or constructing buildings to be used as schools or medical facilities, the work that is carried out in the communities is greatly appreciated by the local people.
I do tell family and friends back home not to make judgments solely on stories of death and terrorism. There is the positive side of helping Iraqi communities develop and grow which many people do not get to hear about.
Progress is certainly being made in southern Iraq and the hope that the whole of the south can be brought under Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC) in the coming months is increasing.
Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has set clear priorities for PIC to be reached. These priorities focus on security, improving the electricity supply, economic reform and building democratic structures. But to succeed they will continue to need help from the UK and the international community.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
ping to a great article
LOL...sad but true.