DARREN and Aaron Kenneway are a Band of Brothers in Camp Bastion. As part of 1 Scots’ Charlie Company, the brothers, from Bathgate, are part of a rapid response unit primed for action in Helmand.
They are among a group of more than 600 Scottish soldiers in the key Afghan province, carrying out a multitude of vastly varied roles.
The Kenneways are part of a Brigade Operations Company, which has more than 100 soldiers ready to support the Afghan National army in missions against the Taleban at a minute’s notice.
There could have been three Kenneway brothers in Afghanistan, but their other brother Gavin, 22, decided to leave the army before the current deployment.
Corporal Darren Kenneway, 25, said his mother, Veronica, was frantic at the thought of two of her sons being on the front line, but had since come to terms with it.
He said: “She wasn’t happy at all to start with, but she realised that we were coming over to do a job and that’s just the way it was. I was out here before a couple of years ago, when the fighting was a lot fiercer, so she has had time to get her head around it. Nothing was going to change the deployment in any case and I think she realised that we were both heading out here.
“It’s a bit unusual being here with my brother, but it means we can keep an eye on each other. I think we’re lucky to find ourselves in this position.”
Lance Corporal Aaron Kenneway, 21, said it was good to work with his older brother, who is a section commander, with seven men under him.
He said: “Darren has been in a few years longer than me and he is a good soldier, so I have been able to learn from him.”
Scots Guards Glen Beattie-Nash, 19, and Scott Kincaid, 24, volunteered for the canine duties and are on call to accompany their dogs to sniff out key routes where insurgents may have laid Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), which are at the heart of the Taleban’s war strategy.
Guardsman Beattie-Nash, from Dunoon, said: “I got introduced to Buddy, who is a Labrador and one of the most talented dogs out of the whole bunch. It’s a great job and I wasn’t sure what it would be like but I’m glad I did it.”
Guardsman Kincaid, from Cumbernauld, said the job done by the dogs is crucial.
He said: “In Afghanistan, you can’t take a step without having the confidence to know the road is clear, so dogs are really important. They are so well trained and they are saving lives every day.”
Elsewhere in the camp, mechanics from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers work flat out on running repairs and repairing vehicles damaged by roadside bombs. Gary Gauld, from Cumbernauld, is at Bastion after signing up with the TA.
“The conditions for vehicles here are really tough because of the heat and the sand in any case, but there is a lot of damage caused by IEDs,” he explained.
“Some of the vehicles we fix are massive, but the basic principles are the same, so if you know how to put together the engine in a car you will be on the right lines with a Husky or a Mastiff armoured vehicle.”
Another Scot at the base is Warrant Officer Class 2 Sanders Gray, 49, who is signed up with the 21 Engineers Regiment as a reservist after serving 24 years in the army.
He plays a key part as a liaison officer between the army and Afghan people, settling compensation claims for land taken as part of the ISAF military strategy.
He said: “Our job is to enable good relations with the indigenous people. It can be quite complex, as we can pay compensation for holding people’s compounds or for killing their sheep, which happens accidentally in the course of events.
“We have tariffs and the biggest challenge is to make sure we pay the right people.”
Sergeant Natasha Robertson, 29, from Stirling, deals with issues like soldiers’ pay, signing up interpreters and dealing with next of kin.
She said: “There is a lot more to running a military campaign than the fighting. There are so many nuts and bolts to put together, which are just as important.”
Flight Lieutenant Steve Milne, from Forfar, is part of the RAF’s Force Protection Wing, entrusted to put a “ring of steel” around the base.
He said: “We look after a huge area, around 600 square kilometres around Bastion that we need to know is secure. We have so many planes and helicopters in the sky and we need to know of any threats that might exist.
“We have an extremely sophisticated Operations Room and the data we get from surveillance is second to none.”