Change of scenery for TV manager in Helmand
An army reservist has swapped offices for remote desert bases as she helps tell the British military's story in Afghanistan.
TV production manager Claire Jackson will spend Christmas in Afghanistan as she completes a six-month tour of duty in Helmand province as head of a camera team.
The 37-year-old Lieutenant, from Tavistock in West Devon, said: "This is my first operational tour and it's very different from the environments I'm used to at home. Normally I work in an office, negotiating budgets, managing schedules and setting up locations for filming, for companies like the BBC.
"At the moment, though, I'm in Camp Bastion, which is vast and home to thousands of British troops. From there we often travel to smaller bases across the province to record what's going on," she said.
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The Combat Camera Team (CCT) is made up of Claire, a stills photographer and a video operator. They travel by helicopter and armoured vehicles across Helmand province to see how the UK is handing security roles to the Afghan forces. She said: "We fly by helicopter across Helmand to places like Lashkar Gah, a busy town where our Task Force headquarters used to be based.
"We speak to British troops who are working with the Afghan security forces, and capture what camp life is like.
"It's really interesting meeting the Afghan soldiers. We saw hundreds of them marching at a new battle school near Camp Bastion and they looked very proud of their progress."
Claire, whose father Peter was a Royal Marine Captain who served as a helicopter pilot, has been an Army reservist for three years.
She added: "I've really enjoyed having the military aspect running alongside my civilian career. I used to compete horses in three-day events, and after I stopped that I joined the TA because I wanted a new challenge, and to meet people who were like-minded. My mother blames my father for my interest in the forces but standing on the steps at Sandhurst after passing out as an officer was one of their proudest moments, I think."
When Claire returns to the UK in the spring, she is looking forward to using her experiences of working in a conflict area to good effect.
"Coming out here I didn't know what to expect, but it's been a great place to learn how to work under a different kind of pressure.
"Leading a small team means I have to be organised and we have to be alert," she said.
"It's given me great confidence to return home with.
"I don't know where my career will take me, but I've definitely benefited from being here."