Friday, 27 January 2006

Freshening up the Taliban

I was listening to the news with rather less than half an ear, in the way that we used to listen to announcements about new peace initiatives in Northern Ireland, when suddenly one item seized my complete attention: An advance party of British troops from 16 Aerosol Brigade will fly to Afghanistan this week….

The last weapons I handled were Stens, Brens and Short Lee-Enfields, but for some years after I took early retirement (at 22) from the army my name featured on the reserve list, so in case I should one day be summoned to defend democracy, or something, I always tried to keep abreast of developments, noting the introduction of the M1 and the AK47, and being aware that the Hechler & Koch is a submachine gun and not a firm of investment bankers. But I had somehow missed the addition of deodorant sprays to the arsenal of British military hardware.

I suppose, when you come to think about it, such weapons were bound to be deployed sooner or later in the kind of warfare with primitive people that takes place in remote spots. Clearly, mountain fighters must sometimes go without a hot shower for several days at a time, and it is better not to think about the state of their underwear.

It is good to know that we now have specialist units to deal with this sort of thing. 16 Aerosol Brigade presumably forms part of the Queen’s Own Fragrancer Regiment (motto: Semper Redolens), known affectionately as The Squirts, and back at Pinefresh Barracks in Hampshire some grizzled old Perfumier-Sergeant is training recruits in the skills they will need—the volleys of short puffs in hand-to-hand fighting, the long co-ordinated bursts in a disciplined advance, and so on.

It is re-assuring to know that our Ministry of Defence will, in accordance with its tradition, have supplied these troops before they go into battle with the finest of modern equipment, ranging from lightweight fast-draw cans worn on the hip for dealing with individual bearded fanatics as they advance with wild yells wearing socks which have not been washed for weeks, up to the huge StenchMaster carrier-mounted cylinders which can take out a whole latrine from half a mile away.

And their ammunition will have been brought right up to date, too. Feeble domestic Lavenders and Citrons would be no good for tackling the personal hygiene of fundamentalist tribesmen, but no doubt there are refills of combat-strength Cinnamon, Musk Ox or Old Stogie already waiting to be loaded onto the transport aircraft.

Disappointingly, I discovered when I read the newspaper that I had misheard the announcement: Air Assault Brigade.

1 comment:

Grumio said...

"Hullo, I would like to buy a deodorant"

"Yes sir. Ball or aerosol?"

"No. It is for my armpit".