On his second tour in Afghanistan Prince Harry will be based at Camp Bastion, the vast military complex in the Helmand desert.
Note: This article is from the Guardian.
On his second tour in Afghanistan Prince Harry will be based at Camp Bastion, the vast military complex in the Helmand desert that is home to up to 30,000 military personnel and civilians, and provides the support and backup services needed to run Nato’s campaign against the Taliban.
Life at the camp is fairly austere, but is much more comfortable than conditions at the small forward operating bases and checkpoints elsewhere in the province.
As an Apache pilot, Prince Harry will have one privilege; he will probably not have to sleep in one of the numerous tents on site, but will be given a bed in an air-conditioned ‘ISO’ metal container. This slightly superior accommodation is given to pilots to keep them as fresh as possible during what is likely to be a busy four-month tour, with no leave.
Downtime for Britons staying at the camp means heading to the Naafi cafe and shop. There is a dry bar next door, called Heroes, which has TVs broadcasting news channels and sport, a pool table, darts, and a number of board games, including Frustration.
There isn’t a lot to buy in the British areas of Camp Bastion, but there are three shops, which sell Afghan clothes, trinkets, CDs and DVDs. A tailor and barber make up the shopping mall, such as it is, as well as a Pizza Hut. A small steakhouse has opened in recent months. To buy something more exotic, Prince Harry will have to head to Camp Leatherneck, the adjacent US base, where, curiously, it is possible to buy lingerie.
Staying fit is an obsession for most personnel, perhaps because there is little else to do when not working. Volleyball nets have been put up all over the camp, and games go on most evenings. A small football pitch has been made out of the pads used for helicopter landings.
There are also huge air-conditioned gyms, and those brave enough to withstand the fine dust in the air, and heat that can reach up to 50C during summer, go running. With a 25 mile (40km) perimeter, there is no shortage of roads to jog on, and with a 15mph speed limit for all traffic, it is reasonably safe.
Food for the camp comes in by road and is mostly stored in a central warehouse which is thought to be the second biggest building in Afghanistan. An estimated 27 tonnes of salad and fruit comes in every week alone.
Bastion has its own bus service, fire station and police force to enforce camp laws and regulations, not that the prince, or any of his army colleagues, are likely to fall foul of them.
There is a near constant hum from the helicopters and other military aircraft that come and go from the camp, which is believed to be busier than Stansted airport. The helicopters are the workhorses of the operation – constantly ferrying people in and out of the bases, and bringing casualties back to the Bastion hospital, which is state of the art. The patients there are said to have a 97% survival rate – that is, medics have saved almost all of the soldiers and civilians who are brought into them alive.
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