Iraq 'Running Route Irish'
Baghdad, Iraq, 2 Oct 2005. Running 'Route Irish'...Ranger Steven Smyth sleeps next to photos of his newborn daughter.....Living 3 men to a room in basic Portacabins the soldiers make themselves at home by decorating the walls and bunks with family pictures and personal mementos. ....B Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, a tight-knit multi national fighting force make daily escorting runs along ?Route Irish?, the infamous Baghdad Airport road. The 46 man team are all British Army regulars but come from as far afield as Fiji, South Africa and Northern and Southern Ireland. Previous deployments in Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland have equipped them with the valuable skills needed to provide protection for British Forces and materials transiting the world?s most dangerous highway. Due to an increased presence of US forces along the route both in dug in positions and mobile patrols, attacks along the road have slackened, despite this a day rarely passed without an IED (improvised explosive device) being detonated or a small arms attack against coalition forces. ..The convoy attempts to maintain a seclusion ?bubble? around its vehicles for the duration of the journey. Any civilian vehicle that either strays into the bubble or refuses to keep their distance represents a threat and should they ignore the warning blasts on air horns carried in each vehicle the rules of engagement progress from warning shots to use of lethal force. The relative safety of the International Zone offers them an opportunity to decompress between missions. A duty driver ferries soldiers to the ?Liberty Pool?. Once only frequented by Iraq?s Ba?athist elite the luxury swimming pool and gym now fills with troops. Their body armour, helmets and weapons all within easy reach they either soak up the sun or compete with each other in diving competitions.Download