In 2001, the British Army was deployed to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The Mercian regiment later joined the troops and for the past 10 years, the BBC has followed a number of its soldiers. How has their time on the ground changed them? Did they change Afghanistan? And for all the sacrifices made, was it worth it?
‘I value life more for going there’
Maj Mike Brigham, from Bournville in Birmingham, is now one of the British Army’s youngest company commanders, aged 34.
On tour, the Taliban nicknamed him “The Special Infidel” because he has dark skin and speaks some Farsi. He took part in talks with them and with locals, but also saw his share of fighting.
The hardest moment was issuing a “shoot to kill” order against one of his own young soldiers.
“He was just 18 -years-old and he just snapped,” said Maj Brigham. “It was too much, so he took off his helmet and body armour and put his rifle down and ran away from us.
“Then two white vehicles came in carrying Taliban fighters. They started firing.
“I knew if he carried on he’d be captured, tortured and killed. And he knew sensitive information about where patrol bases were and…