Saturday, September 23, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 7, 1445 H
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30°C / 30°C

Our Company Heading towards Ibri

A Window into Contemporary Omani Literature

The following is my English translation of excerpts from “A Soldier from Oman: Memory’s Nectar” by (ret.) Inspector-General Said bin Rashid Al Kalbani:

After that it was the turn of our company to leave for Ibri, from where our platoon was ordered to go to Boremi to carry out vehicle patrols. From the Khandaq Fort, where we stayed for about two weeks, we would go on patrol to Wadi Fath and Qomera. On our way we would take water from the Ain Fount. In Boremi we camped in Bin Sa’aid Fount and Wadi Fath.

After coming back to Ibri, we went on patrol to the Empty Quarter and stopped at the Om al Zamool Well, where we had to go on foot with a great deal of hardship, as it was set between sands inaccessible by vehicles. We saw water pipes used to pull up water from the well for the many camels around it. The Bedouin living nearby were in charge of the water pipes. They had to report to the wali of Ibri when and if those pipes needed repair. They were also responsible for keeping an eye on the desert and report any smuggling of weapons.

Once we, the sons of Miskan, went to pay a special visit to Sheikh Hamad bin Saif Al Kalbani in his home in Ghaneema in Ibri. We accompanied him to visit the then wali of Ibri, Sayyad Saud bin Harib Al Busaidi in his house in Hilla.

After that, I was posted to the Ghala Training Centre to head the Applications Team, consisting of 12 soldiers from all branches of the army. The soldiers carried out all the tactical operations planned by the chief expert, a captain of British nationality. We wore civil outfit and painted our faces with black powder from the cooking utensils.

The mission of the team was to play the role of a dummy enemy facing the platoons about to graduate. Every graduating platoon had to face us. Wadi O’q was chosen for its many twists and turns and for its rugged terrain. We would start with the entrance of the valley (Dosar Village) and get involved in a variety of military operations; we would attack the “enemy”, firing guns and throwing grenades at them. The exercise would continue across Wadi O’q till its end, the Marimo Pass, where we would spend the night to return the following day to the Ghala Camp.

Our second, and the last, day and night exercise, was to be held in Wadi Ansab. We would carry out skirmishes in the manner of fight or flight in the daylight with the “enemy” platoon till we reached the Boshar Heights. The “enemy” would stay for two nights on the hill where Sultani Hospital is now situated. We would stay with them, raiding their camp and the patrols that came from it at night, resorting to our shelter in an old castle behind the Ghobra Rest House. Following this pattern, we graduated eight platoons, on an average of two platoons per year.

During that period when the number of Omani officers was still small, I came to know Lieut. Said bin Salim Al Wahibi, who later on was promoted to lieutenant colonel, Escort of his Majesty and subsequently, the minister of the Royal Court. I also came to know Lieut. Ali bin Rahsid Al Kindi and Private Abdullah bin Saleh Al Habsi (lieutenant general later). Once the training ended, we returned to our regiment after being replaced by another team. It was soon after this that I was promoted to corporal.

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