Paul Minter has reflected on the ongoing legacy of Britain’s involvement in Iraq, 20 years on from the start of the invasion (Picture: Paul Minter/Head Up)
Twenty years after the first barrage of Western cruise missiles rained down on Iraq, the battle scars are still raw among many within the British military community.
Paul Minter, who served in and around Basra during a distinguished 18-year Army career, is among those who have struggled to erase the dark memories from their minds.
In 2007, he found himself in the insurgents’ sights as a Lance Corporal in the Brigade Reconnaissance Force, carrying out covert surveillance missions from its base in the southern city.
Having signed up at the age of 17, the Household Cavalry soldier also served four tours of Afghanistan, where he miraculously survived RPG hits and being blown up by an IED.
Suffering the mental aftershocks of war, he was medically discharged from the military, where he last held the rank of Staff Sergeant with the cavalry regiment’s D Squadron.
The veteran, now aged 37, would go on to found Head Up, a mental health charity for the armed forces community, and believes such work is as vital as ever — even at a time when the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are relatively out of sight.
Paul Minter completed tours of Iraq and Afghanistan during his 18-year Army career (Picture: Paul Minter/Head Up)
‘Iraq involved the British for quite some time and there was a lot of intense fighting which hadn’t been seen up to that point,’ he said.
‘There were a lot of negative and some positive things which came out of it.
‘A lot of people are still suffering from the impact of what they’ve seen, what they went through and what they had to do. A major factor at the moment is that there isn’t a lot of help for people who are dealing with their troubles.
‘We know from psychology research that it can take anything between five and 15 years for the brain to really compute that trauma, so there needs to be a lot more out there to help people calm their minds down.
‘As a charity, we are trying to teach people different ways to calm their minds down and compute what they have seen.’
Paul was involved in fierce combat on the frontline with British forces in Afghanistan (Picture: Paul Minter/Head Up)
Twenty years ago today, the first air strikes were launched on Iraq in what the Pentagon named ‘Operation Shock and Awe’.
A coalition led by the US and UK launched the massive invasion the following day, the precursor to the capture of Saddam Hussein, a bloody insurgency and years of instability which continues into the present.
Paul’s involvement came when he took part in covert surveillance operations across the south of the country as second in charge of a four-man reconnaissance team. Missions included laying up on rooftops and in bushes, with one operation installing cameras …read more