The frenetic nature of the conflict in southern Afghanistan is underlined by the fact that many young infantrymen intend to leave the army because the firefights they have survived in Helmand could never be surpassed. In terms of soldiering, the conflict has offered some of the most intense fighting for 50 years, with two million rounds of ammunition so far fired by British forces.
'You could be in the army for decades and you will never get anything like that again. Will it be bettered? I can't see it,' said one soldier. Commanders are understood to be concerned that the Helmand conflict could precipitate an exodus of combat troops who feel military life will never offer the same challenge again.