Blogging from the battlefield

Front Line Bloggers and the Helmand Blog (now combined as UK Forces Afghanistan) were set up by the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) to allow British armed forces personnel to tell the public back home what they were doing there, in their own words.

Personnel of all ranks from all three services, representing a wide variety of trades – infantry, signals, logistics, aviation, medical – as well as civilians, contributed their thoughts and experiences on everything from what it’s like to take on the Taliban in a firefight to the challenges of trying to cook a meal at a patrol base.

Taking the six-month deployment of Operation Herrick 11, the codename for the British campaign, as illustrative of British involvement in Helmand, these personal accounts give a picture of the conflict at ground level, the details of daily life that do not usually make the news, as well as individuals’ perspectives on major events.

The book, ‘Blogging from the battlefield’, was born out of the social media experiment that Major Paul Smyth, a Territorial Army soldier and career public relations professional, developed while ‘called up’ on operations.

What started as a one-month mobilisation to Kosovo ended up at just less than three years of service.

During that time he fought to bring the UK military’s communications into the twenty-first century, introducing the work of the services in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan to audiences all over the world via media channels that have never been used by the military on operations before, and embracing the world of social media.

Blogging from the Battlefield is a result of that approach to harness technology and engage with audiences everywhere. The book mirrors the content of the most successful new media project ever deployed on operations by the British military.

With over 90,000 hits per month the blog has had a huge effect on the way the British military communicates. In an age where events can be broadcast within seconds, the information highway is becoming a new front line.

This fascinating book is a snapshot of life during a busy six-month tour of duty for 11 Light Brigade in Afghanistan and tells the real story of what it’s like for those men and women serving their country in a far-away land.

Further details of Blogging from the battlefield can be found on the main catalogue, available in ‘Catalogues’ on the Library’s website.