IN KANDAHAR, the Recce Troop of the Royal Dragoon Guards (RDG) provides mobility and security for key players needing to visit the region.

They also patrol the city of Kandahar, gauging the reception from different areas of the city, in Ridgeback armoured vehicles.

Corporal Julian McBride, a 28-year-old father of three, just moved from York to Darlington when he was moved to Catterick. His three sons, ten-year-old Arron, eight-year-old Ryan and Dylan, about two-and-a-half, still live in Fulford with their mother.

Cpl McBride accompanies the troops as command or second in command. He has been based at Kandahar since April and can't wait to go home in October, just in time for his two elder sons' birthdays.

He didn't join the army for excitement and experiences, he says, rather the job security and money. He says they have a job to do to keep up morale when they’re met daily with abuse from ordinary Afghan residents.

Cpl McBride says the local kids throw stones and vegetables at them. "It's disparaging from the people we're supposed to be helping. I've got three kids at home and I'm out here trying to help somebody who doesn't want it. But the kids throwing them are only about six years old, they've never known anything different. And in the next street there will be little girls waving and they'll come and get sweets off you.”

Captain of the troop, Jeremy Hann, says there are many areas still very hostile towards the occupying troops. He sits at a desk in a modular building in front of a laminated map of the area, with different coloured pins marking areas where troops have come across improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and been shot at.

"American and Canadian forces have been hit pretty bad by IEDs, and it is probably just luck on our side that we haven't been hit," says Captain Hann.

"A lot of the violence in town is directed at the Afghan National Police," he says, adding that this is probably just because their vehicles are less armoured and the Taliban is targetting its finite resources where it knows it will do the most damage.

He knows if they drive along the canal, they will get pelted, and in the west of the city they're more likely to get shot at.

Cpt Hann says that in the battle of the hearts and minds, minds are the hardest toconquer, with more oppressive tactics in conflicts including NATO troops, such as in Malaysia, Kenya and Northern Ireland, still in people's memories.

"The hearts and minds is very much the key to everything. If you're fighting for a reason,the population of the country need to know why you're here.

"But he says it's hard sometimes to remember why they're here. He says they have achieved some things, like the one million girls that are now attending school in Afghanistan, but they're often checked by the nagging doubt "but for how long?"