Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Game Not over for in Afghanistan War; It Is Now More Than a Year since Defence Secretary John Reid Sent 3,500 Troops to Afghanistan Telling Fellow MPs He Hoped They Would Leave "Without Firing a Shot". since Then, British Soldiers Have Been Caught Up in the Heaviest Fighting since Korea. NIGEL GREEN Has Just Returned from Afghanistan, Where He Met North East Men Serving with the Light Dragoons

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Game Not over for in Afghanistan War; It Is Now More Than a Year since Defence Secretary John Reid Sent 3,500 Troops to Afghanistan Telling Fellow MPs He Hoped They Would Leave "Without Firing a Shot". since Then, British Soldiers Have Been Caught Up in the Heaviest Fighting since Korea. NIGEL GREEN Has Just Returned from Afghanistan, Where He Met North East Men Serving with the Light Dragoons

Article excerpt

Byline: NIGEL GREEN

MANY of them are just teenagers fresh out of school. Labelled as soft and unable to take discipline, they come from the so-called PlayStation generation.

But, while many of their pals may be playing on computers in the comfort of their homes, these lads are 7,000 miles away in the killing fields of Afghanistan.

They are facing real enemies and, when they press buttons from inside their tanks, it is to gun down Taliban fighters. And they know that, if they make a mistake, it could cost them their life - or the lives of their friends.

More than 100 men from the Light Dragoons are near the end of a six-month tour, fighting the Taliban in a war that has already claimed the lives of 70 British soldiers.

They have had to learn quick in a hostile environment where temperatures can reach 55C (130F).

Trooper Lee Hunter, 19, from Brandon, County Durham, was inspired by his father, Simon, who retired four years ago after reaching the rank of sergeant major.

Lee said: "He was in the Army for 23 years but I've seen more action than him, and he'd agree with me."

The teenager has been involved in numerous fire-fights and ambushes.

He said: "You can hear the rounds hitting the vehicle.You get mixed emotions - adrenaline, excitement and fear.

"We do a job and a couple of days later the Taliban have doubled their numbers. Kill one, and you get two back."

Simon Maguire, 19, who joined the Army at 16 after leaving school, has taken part in many of the 40 fire-fights his unit has been caught in. He said: "One day, I could see mortars falling 200 metres away and they were gradually coming closer.

"When they got to within 50 metres, we moved away. Another vehicle commander said if we'd stayed there another couple of minutes, we'd have been hit."

Simon, whose parents, Graham and Amanda live in Jarrow, said: "My mum and dad don't like me being out here, but I'm happy. …

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