Welcome to the Alamo.

Welcome to the Alamo

in Helmand Province, Afghanistan

British soldiers in Afghanistan.

BLOODTHIRSTY drugs gangs, al-Qaeda suicide bombers, floods, flesh-eating scorpions — and no allies for 100 miles.

Welcome to “Camp Alamo”, the most dangerous place in the world.

The Sun yesterday became the first British newspaper to visit Our Boys’ desolate new base in Afghanistan’s lawless Helmand Province.

It is where 3,300 troops led by Paras will mount a highly dangerous mission to tame the Taliban’s heartlands.

The base is officially named Camp Bastion. But 150 Royal Marines guarding Royal Engineers building it have nicknamed it the Alamo — after the legendary 1836 last stand in Texas.

With the nearest Coalition forces up to 12 hours’ drive away in Kandahar, our troops too are surrounded on all sides by danger.

Even locals call the barren plateau without roads or vegetation the Desert of Death.

Wild criminal gangs roam at will, a renewed insurgency kills Afghan and US troops almost daily and drugs warlords use nomadic trails to smuggle opium consignments.

Nature at Camp Alamo is just as cruel. Temperatures sink to minus 20°C in winter and soar to 50°C in summer.

The 150 Marines from Juliet Company, 42 Commando, arrived just a week ago.

But the men, who also fought in Iraq, vowed to tough out anything thrown at them. Cpl Carwyn Lewis, 32, from Plymouth, said: “They’re welcome to have a go at us — we’re ready for them.”

His company commander Major Steve Lee, 36, added: “I’d be a fool to suggest the bad guys aren’t watching us.

“I hope they are — so they can see how professional we are and the sort of tools we have brought to the party”.

The Sun joined a convoy of WMIK Land Rovers to track through the wilderness for two hours to reach Camp Bastion. Marines kept their fingers over the triggers of their machine guns.

The Taliban was toppled in 2001. But it has regrouped, is reinvigorated and is back with a vengeance. It has burned down schools, assassinated foreign aid workers and beheaded local cops.

Suicide bombings are on the rise and it is feared the fanatics are preparing for an all-out assault after linking up with drug barons who supply arms and cash from of opium grown in Helmand.

The Taliban’s ranks are swollen by hundreds of al-Qaeda fighters.

Taliban militias launch their attacks in groups of up to 200, travelling in 4x4s and descending from valley tops from all sides. Building Camp Bastion — 400 miles south of Kabul — is an extraordinary logistical operation unparalleled in modern British military history.

A 150-strong squadron of Royal Engineers from 39 Regiment have been given only four months to create a small town from nothing.

On Day One a mechanical digger was airlifted in to scoop out a 6ft ditch next to a 6ft defensive bank. Marines including Cpl Steve Spear keep a 24-hour watch on the work. Snipers, Javelin anti-tank missiles, machine guns and 81mm mortar teams cover approach routes. The M-Star radar system spots movement 20 miles away.

But there is little to defend them from nature’s predators. Three different lethal spiders inhabit the Desert of Death, including the black widow.

Nocturnal flesh-eating scorpions inject an anaesthetic into human skin, then munch away — while sand flies can cause a leprosy-like disease. Neither does the area’s murderous history bode well.

The Russians were the last foreign force to be driven from the area, in the 1980s.

And 50 miles east is the site of the Battle of Maiwand, where 962 British soldiers were massacred in 1880.

However the British forces commander in Helmand, Colonel Gordon Messenger, said: “There is a major difference with our presence here this time. It is that we’re here to help them, we’re on their side and they know that.”

I think the Afcan government needs a lot more support if it will survive.

I think the Afcan government needs a lot more support if it will survive.

How do you figure? Numerous combat brigades with better training and equipment than the enemy can throw at them isn't enough?
I hope they haven,t jinxed themselves with that name Alamo, and I hope the home advantage things not what it could be.
Just a little odd fact here, I've actually been to the Alamo, you'd be suprised if you see it....the nice touch is if you go there you'll find it's one of the few american monuments that acknowledges the different nationalities of each fighter...there's 3 English George cross's hanging in the central hall.

But a name like the Alamo may suggest bravery and Valour, I think it's not really a name that should be re-used
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