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Wednesday, 24 April 2019 03:49 am

Army’s ‘ally’ meerkat lifts Afghanistan mission morale

ROLL OUT: Privates Jack Howard (Right) and Joe Ryan (Left) with Octavious Hunt in a Jackal armoured vehicle

ROLL OUT: Joe Ryan (left) and Jack Howard with Octavious Hunt in a Jackal armoured vehicle.

THE British Army has a strange new recruit – a metre-tall cardboard meerkat called Octavious Hunt.

With his signature cigarette and Brigade Reconnaissance Force badge, he has become a regular feature of the elite group’s missions in Afghanistan.

One of the major goals of a soldier in the British Army is to appear “ally” or cool at all times, and Octavious Hunt is regarded as the epitome of ally, says BRF soldier Private Jack Howard.

Octavious had been an integral part of the Reconnaissance Force since they were deployed to the Helmand province in Afghanistan last month, he said in an email interview with NewsWire.

The Force’s role in Afghanistan was to patrol hostile territory while mounted in armoured transports called “jackals”.

Although they had constant clashes with the Taliban, the enemy usually pulledmeerkat MAIN 3 out before a significant victory was achieved and this could be a blow to morale.

In such difficult times, a mascot like Octavious was as much of a morale boost as receiving mail from home: “Thanks to everyone who wrote and emailed me.”

Shedding light on the mysterious meerkat’s origins, he said the big cardboard cut-out was nicked from a store.

“We stuck a cigarette to his mouth, a BRF flash and wings (Brigade Recon Force symbol) to his shoulder, and have been posing him in photos on every op (operation) for a laugh.”

He said some troops felt their mission was “pretty unsuccessful”.

“The Taliban had a pretty strong grip of the area and all we managed to do was piss off and scare the locals,” he said.

“They knew that wherever we went the Taliban would follow and in that sense we brought trouble and death.”

Two men they questioned on the first day were hung by the Taliban the next as an example to those who appeared to collaborate.

Octavious Hunt is missing in action, he said. Some suspect foul play within the brigade.

ON DUTY: Octavious Hunt with members of the Brigade Reconnaissance force on patrol in Helmand province

ON DUTY: Octavious Hunt with members of the Brigade Reconnaissance force in Helmand province.

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