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Lifeline in Helmand: RAF Front-Line Air Supply in Afghanistan (Hardback)

1310 Flight in Action

Aviation Afghanistan Post WWII Aviation Photo Books Colour Books SAS & Elite Forces RAF

By Roger Annett
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781848842748
Published: 30th November 2010

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Lifeline in Helmand tells the story of the Royal Air Force tactical transport force operating in one of the most dangerous regions in the Afghanistan campaign – Helmand province. The Chinook helicopters of 1310 Flight fly heavy-lift and trooping missions to remote Forward Operating Bases and in direct support of Deliberate Ground Operations. They are complemented by the mass air-drop capability of the Hercules transports of 904 Expeditionary Air Wing, RAF.

The book follows 'C' Flight of 27 Squadron from RAF Odiham as it prepares for another three-month deployment to Helmand manning 1310 Flight, under the command of NATO, within the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF. The narrative joins 'C' Flight on winter-flying training in the Scottish Highlands, before following them to the battleground on the Airbridge transports from RAF Brize Norton. It then tracks them through their operational tour. There are first-hand accounts from air and ground crews, client Royal Marine Commandos and in-theatre helicopter support units, as well as from Hercules pilots on detachment from RAF Lyneham, and men of 47 Air Despatch Squadron. There are detailed depictions of sorties in support of ground operations, and of life-saving casualty evacuation missions with teams of medics and nurses.

The author describes the tortuous historical background to today's conflict, and eye-witnesses contribute their personal viewpoints on the campaign together with many dramatic photographs from the front line. The whole adds up to a fitting tribute to elite British units facing the horrors and deprivations of war in a far-off corner of a troubled land.

The author describes the tortuous historical background to today’s conflict, and eye-witnesses contribute their personal viewpoints on the campaign together with many dramatic photographs from the front line. The whole adds up to a fitting tribute to elite British units facing the horrors and deprivations of war in a far-off corner of a troubled land.

LZDZ Magazine,

His crisp style and straightforward prose allow the reader to visualise what he is describing. … Many direct quotes and descriptions of life at Bastion or Kandahar are used, which give the text authenticity… the copious high-resolution, colour illustrations throughout the book have been printed on high quality paper. These really do serve to enhance the reader’s understanding and are certainly the closest most of us are going to get to Kandahar or Bastion. So, all in all, this is a valuable and thought provoking addition to the ever growing body of literature (serious and sensational, good, bad and indifferent) on a long and bloody campaign.

Guy Warner. The Newsletter, Belfast, 04/02/2012

As an ex-Argosy pilot with 215 Sqn, the author has been able to give us a unique understanding of Front Line Chinook operations in Afghanistan. He recently followed the pre-deployment preparations of a crew from 'C' Flt 27 Sqn and their subsequent arduous and dangerous support to ops in Helmand. This book transports you into Theatre, and indeed, into the Chinook cockpit with all its drama and action and leaves you with a vivid picture of life (and death) on the frontline fighting the Taliban. This book is a must for those wanting to gain an intimate insight into helicopter ops in a hostile environment and is superbly supported by many high quality photographs.

Highly Recommended

Air Mail July- Sept 2011

This book tells the story of the RAF tactical transport force, operating in one of the most dangerous regions in the Afghan campaign. Using eyewitness accounts and personal viewpoints together with dramatic photographs

Pennant Magazine

At the book's core is the work of 1310 Flight, operating the Chinook helicopter in Helmand and sometimes elsewhere. The flight is manned in rotation be crews from RAF Odiham and in the period covered, this task fell to C Flight of No 27 Sqn so the story is told through the eyes of 'The Boss', 'Frankie' 'Chomper', Mr B', 'Ginger' and 'Morts'. About the only person who seems to use his real name is Warrant Officer john Edbrooke, the Engineering officer. We follow C Flight through its pre-deployment training and preparations and then into Theatre, where the reader learns about the various tasks, locations and issues which govern the crews' daily routine. The book is well illustrated, with both colour and monochrome photographs, and detailed maps, which are essential if the narrative is to be fully appreciated. The RAF, as with most organisations, has its own constantly evolving lexicon of acronyms and jargon and most readers will find it useful to have a thumb lodged permanently in the Glossary.

Royal Air Force Historical Society

Roger Annett joined the Royal Air Force in 1959 and co-piloted 215 Squadron over jungle terrain from 1963 to 1965. So he knows well the difficulties to fly a big wide transport aircraft over unfamiliar foreign and strange terrains, and that is what this book follows. Roger Annett follows the 'C' Flight of 27 Squadron as they prepare themselves to have another three month journey in to one of the most dangerous regions of Afghanistan, the Helmand province. This squadron is preparing themselves for the journey to Afghanistan in the winter, so they are practicing in the Scottish Highlands, to learn how to fly properly and safely in the Afghan winter conditions.

This book goes through the operations and missions that these forces have to go through in one of the most dangerous provinces in Afghanistan, so the threat is great for these soldiers and pilots as they have to do such things as resupply by airdrop. For many of the soldiers going, it is there first time in the Helmand, so it will be hard to prepare themselves to fly into a danger that they have never seen anything like, but for other soldiers this may be there 4th or 5th time. The book also goes through some challenges, such as in Operation Diesel, where it shows how the pilots and soldiers are tested as they do things such as rolling delivery to make sure that they have enough supplies.

This book also has many images and pictures of the squadron training in the Scottish Highlands, but it also has many more images of Afghanistan and of the dangerous Helmand, to give the reader a real idea of the challenge that these people really do have, and the difficulty that they will have to do their job well and safely, it gives more insight to the reader and really helpful to help you see their jobs that they have to do, such as airdrops and landing in challenging locations. The useful pictures also show the difficult terrain, that these pilots and soldiers will have to work with, and how challenging and difficult it can be. It shows the real skill and determination that these men have, to work on cold desert terrains, which they will not be familiar for these people.

This book is full of amazing facts and details that makes these pilots absolutely amazing at their job, and makes them fully respected by all of us for the great work they do in such a dangerous location. This book would be a fantastic read for someone who really finds this warfare fascinating and really respects the job that these RAF forces do in such dangerous locations in Afghanistan. It goes through in detail with images to give you the experience that these brave soldiers do in unfamiliar terrains. Roger Annett combines eye-witness accounts with historical background to give you the whole picture of serving in Afghanistan, showing background information to topics such as resupplying to make this a really interesting book.

MB (Customer Review)

Afghanistan is the theater where 1310 Flight’s role is to provide the heavy-lift support helicopter element within the British Forces’ Joint Helicopter Command. Its Headquarters are at Wilton because the unit reports to British Land Forces HQ, meaning that the Operational Command of its RAF personnel lies with the Army. RAF Odiham in Hampshire offers the Flight the largest fleet of Chinooks outside the US Army. Currently, eight of those machines are detached to Afghanistan at any one time, within the International Security Assistance Force. This book explains how 1310 Flight practice and prepare the replacement crews for their tour in Helmand, the most difficult combat zone experienced by the British since World War II. It also contains firsthand accounts and photographs of operational experience during a tour in the battle zone.The outline for the contents is as follows:Chapter 1-Crew’s eye view-bad-weather training sortie in Scottish Highlands: Chapter 2-Towards the Airbridge: Chap

www.afghanistanis.com

It becomes supremely obvious that the RAF is a necessary lynchpin in the war in Afghanistan. The marines cannot function without the back-up of this elite force. The Chinooks deliver food supplies and evacuation of casualties and also move vast numbers of troops in this vast country, which is both beautiful and treacherous. This book follows 'C' Flight of 27 Squadron from RAF Odiham as it prepares for a three month deployment to Helmand manning 1310 Flight, under the command of Nato, within the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF. For those of us who only see the endless stream of coffins at Wootton Bassett on television this book tries to enlighten us about the reasons for the conflict and the author describes the tortuous historical background of a beautiful country ravaged by war. The desperate struggle with the Taliban is closely linked to the control of narcotics primarily the poppy producing opium and is also compounded by deep divisions in the people themselves.
Roger Annett the author joined the Royal Air Force in 1959 and co-piloted 215 Squadron Argosy tactical transport aircraft on active service in Borneo from 1963-67.He has compiled a detailed account of the ongoing conflict with first-hand accounts from air and ground crews, client Royal Marine Commandos and in-theatre helicopter support units, as well as Hercules pilots from RAF Lyneham. There are detailed sorties and photographs of the vast terrain they have to negotiate on each mission. The book is a fitting tribute to the elite British units facing the horrors and deprivations of war in a far-off corner of a troubled land. It is without doubt a very interesting and informative read.

Susan (Customer Review)

"Lifeline in Helmand" describes the experiences of the RAF tactical transport force as it goes about its duties in, arguably, the most dangerous theatre of modern war, Helmand province in Afghanistan. The author, Roger Annett, has knowledge of the subject at hand having served in the RAF himself from the late 1950s until the mid 1960s seeing active service in the jungles of Borneo. His memories of that time in his life were collected in a memoir, Drop Zone Borneo. He has also authored another work about the Burma campaign during World War II.

This book, beginning in the autumn of 2008, introduces the reader to 'C' Flight of 27 Squadron from RAF Odiham. At the books beginning they are preparing for a three month deployment, not their first, to Helmand province as a member of the NATO force engaged in a bloody struggle with the Taliban for the future of Afghanistan and its' long suffering people. We first join them in the Scottish Highlands, as they train for the flying conditions as they will be in the Afghan winter. We then follow them into Afghanistan and are with them as they set about the task that NATO and the British, French and US governments have assigned to them, namely the defeat of the Taliban, support for the government of President Hamid Karzai coupled with a mission to rescue the Afghan people from the war, blood and misery of the past 30 years. Along with a history of the country beginning over 1,000 years ago we are presented with descriptions from the servicemen themselves, who are in the thick of the conflicf as well as photographs showing many of the realities of conflict in the 21st century. The book is, therefore, a mirror into a war that remains shrouded in controversy but is also a moving reminder of the travails and terrors suffered by our servicemen in our name.

Paul (Customer Review)

A lot of us read the national newspapers and watch the news on TV and understand that Britain is a war, however, very few of us truly know what occurs when our troops go to war. Lifeline In Helmand: RAF Battlefield Mobility in Afganistan does give us a small insight into the daily lives of our brave soldiers. Roger Annett undertook a brave journey to the war torn county in order to write this informative book. Written in an uncomplicated style, Annett tells it how it is, this straightforward writing style makes you really feel as if you are there and that you are experiencing the events which unfold. I was originally given this book by my granddad who had previously served in the RAF, who told me that this book would give me a realistic view of live in a war Zone. He was right, this fantastic book includes first hand accounts from both the air and ground crews, who talk candidly about their roles in Afganistan. It took me a matter of days to read this fantastic book which offer you some heroic stories as well as some emotional tales, whilst also offering some dramatic glossy candid photos which help to illustrate a lot of the stories told throughout the book. While I am not a fan of any war, this book has made me truly respect the men and women of our British forces who travel to this troubled part of the world.

Sue (Customer Review)

Following 27 Squadron's 'C' Flight, normally based at RAF Odiham, as it prepares for another three-month deployment to Helmand Province, Lifeline in Helmand, which includes many first-hand accounts, tells the story of the RAF's tactical transport force operating in one of the most dangerous regions in Afghanistan.

Britain at War Magazine

The ground conflict dominates books written on the current Afghanistan campaign. Lifeline in Helmand is a refreshing addition that tells the critical story of the Chinook crews without whom the ground war would be even more bloody and costly.

This is not a gung-ho, ghosted yarn nor a dry official history. Author Roger Annett has an engaging narrative style that conveys his extensive research. He helpfully walks the reader through each environment - from the cockpit and cabin of the aircraft to life on the sprawling bases. The book is packed with pictures that capture the Chinook in action and the rugged beauty of the region.

There is a helpful historical analysis as well as maps of the various theatres. What comes across vividly is the stresses and strains placed on both aircraft and crew, through PDT (Pre-Deployment Training) to troop insertion and high speed casualty extraction under fire. Life for the crews is a relentless treadmill, with some (at the time of writing) already on their seventh tour.

Although the main focus is the Chinook, Hercules operations are also well covered, from the different aircraft models to the intricacies of parachute drops and resupply. It is not as simple as it looks on TV.

There is no doubt that the Chinooks are indeed the Lifeline in Helmand, and the book is testimony to the courage of their crews.

Peter Weedon

About Roger Annett

Flew with 215 Squadron, co-piloting Argosy transport aircraft deep over jungle terrain from 1963 to 65. He served with the RAF from 1962 to 1967 before joining the computer industry. He lives in Buckinghamshire and has various articles published in Industrial and local magazines.

War in Afghanistan began

7th October 2001

The War in Afghanistan began on October 7th 2001, as the US military's Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) was launched, along with the British military, in response to the September 11th (9/11) attacks on the US. The UK has, since 2002, led its own military operation, Operation Herrick, as part of the same war in Afghanistan. The character of the war evolved from a violent struggle against Al-Qaeda and its Taliban supporters to a complex counterinsurgency effort.


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