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Hampshire to Helmand – Lymington lad hauls over 120 IEDs
Second Lieutenant Chris Annear, 30, of the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh (Royal Welch Fusiliers) has been stationed near the bazaar of Showal, a village in the Nad-e Ali district of central Helmand, since the start of operation Moshtarak. He was the multiple commander who, within two hours after first light, made the biggest single find of IEDs since ISAF troops came to Afghanistan in 2001; over 120 pressure pad IEDs were discovered in 3 compounds near the bazaar.
Chris, who is from Lymington in Hampshire, deployed as part of Combined Force 31 which consisted of the 1 Royal Welsh Battle Group,members of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. 1300 troops deployed into the Nad-e Ali district of central Helmand by helicopter in order to avoid the IED belt securing the area. On the first day a multiple from A Company, led by Chris, found the compounds that acted as factories and storage houses for the IEDs.
The haul was uncovered over the first seven days of the operation and included having to negotiate an IED that was planted in the doorway to one of the compounds. They found over 120 IEDs, numerous RPG warheads, a large amount of homemade explosives, battery packs and detonators along with other IED making equipment.
“We were surprised we met so little resistance on our initial insertion. Many of the compounds seemed unoccupied. We found this one with a local national residing in it and we asked him if there were any IEDs in the area. He pointed to the compounds surrounding his.” Inside the individual’s compound and two of the neighbouring ones were the IEDs and component parts. “We felt lucky we had chosen the route we had!”
WO1 Wayne Roberts, Regimental Sergeant Major of 1 Royal Welsh, voiced his surprise at how quickly Chris moved through the village of Showal. “I couldn’t believe how fast Lieutenant Annear moved through the village. The first building we went into we found some component parts. Lt Annear then took his multiple through the village to his target compound where he found over 120 pressure pad IEDs. We thought the move up would take two days not two hours.”
Chris commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2009, having served with the Royal Military Police as a soldier since 1999. “I joined the Royal Welsh because I had mates who had worked with the Royal Welsh before, they have a good reputation and they have good soldiers.”
A veteran of two tours to Iraq, one tour to the Lebanon and two previous tours of Afghanistan, Chris has found this tour quite intense. “This tour has been quite challenging. The scenarios and problems I meet on a day to basis are not ones I have come across previously.”
Chris and his multiple are based in check points with soldiers from the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Together they provide the security for the bazaar area of Showal. “The first few days of operation Moshtarak found us working closely with the Counter-IED team as we cleared the bazaar of IEDs.”
Chris went to Priestlands School, Lymington, and followed a family tradition by joining the Army. “My grandfather and one of my uncles was in the Royal Artillery and my father and a further two uncles were in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.” His parents, Adrian and Regine are proud of his achievements. He says: “I am the first officer in the family.”
Chris is married to Chloe and they have daughter, Lily, who is three years old. He has a month left in Afghanistan. “I am looking forward to seeing my family when I get home. I should be home just in time to see Chloe give birth to our next child!”