Father of five, Dennis Harrington, is a Sergeant Major at Musa Qul'eh District Centre, he said: “I joined the army 23 years ago because the dockyard closed at Medway Kent.

“My wife doesn't mind me being away, she likes me in small doses anyway. I do miss the kids and her though and it is hard not being with them but I have been on a fair few tours in my 23 years in the Army.”

The Sgt Mjr from Catford finds it especially difficult leaving his wife with his 13-year-old daughter Karla who has special needs.

He said: “I know it is difficult for my wife not only to be away from me and to look after Karla as well, but I have three other daughters who muck in and give her a hand.

The Sergeant Major's wife still has time to have a laugh though.

He said: “One day I got a parcel, a really big one, and when I opened it there was nothing inside except one Rolo.

"I guess she loved me enough to send me her last one.

“I work in the operations room and it can get quite intense, we hear stuff second hand and have to react very quickly if there is a contact or if some of the guys are in trouble.

“If there is small arms contact or an IED goes off we have to plan for it very quickly and get the resources to where they need to be.

“Although sometimes it is exciting most of the time it is Groundhog Day around here.

"We wake up and do the same thing day in, day out and it can get quite tedious.

“It is great though when we get mail from the family and from people who just want us to know that they are thinking about us here.”

p> • For more from our reporter Harry Miller in Afghanistan, click here