War in Six Parts

1.

I woke up tired in half a shipping container. After a quick workout on a floor caked with Afghan ditch mud, among other things, I popped on my PT gear, grabbed my plastic box of personal hygiene supplies, and walked to the closest bathroom shipping container. I shaved, showered, and came back to put on my uniform and strap on my gun.

My team held a morning meeting and I went over to the Afghan side where the Colonel I advised, who sexually molested me every few days, was waiting. We had a good conversation about key control, filling out consumption reports, and an upcoming inventory of the ammunition we’d provided his unit. He didn’t molest me until the end. He insisted on a close hug and quick grab, then grabbed my hand and joked to a guy in his unit sitting on one of the couches in the room he should leave so we could be alone in the office. I joked that I’m never alone with men from Logar. Everyone laughed. I left.

I walked with my friend/interpreter back to the American side and told my team leader about my molestation difficulties. He suggested I grow a beard because Afghan men don’t usually molest other men with beards. This was a good suggestion, but unfortunately I wasn’t authorized to grow a beard because I didn’t have an exception to policy memo signed by an 0-6 or higher prior to deploying.
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2.

I woke up tired in half a shipping container. I popped on my PT gear, grabbed my plastic box of personal hygiene supplies, and walked to the nearest bathroom shipping container. I shaved, showered, and came back to put on my uniform and strap on my gun.

My team held a morning meeting and I went over to the Afghan side, but my Afghan brother hadn’t shown up for work. I went back to the American side and got ready for a low-visibility movement to the Afghan National Supply Depot. When we arrived, the vehicle I was in, driven by a young Ranger, was stopped by the Afghan security team guarding the entrance.

After being told to wait multiple times, my driver, a young white boy I’d only ever seen angry, decided not to listen and drove forward. I ordered him to stop, but Rangers only listen to Rangers and anger, so he kept going. The Afghans pointed their weapons at us and ordered us to stop. After a moment of consideration, the Ranger decided to stop.

We used our leverage as a National Mission Unit to circumvent the logistics system we’d created and were training the Afghans to use. We successfully cajoled a few supplies from a depot where Afghan officers hoard warehouse upon warehouse worth of US military hardware.

On the drive back through Kabul we ran into traffic. The traffic was caused by a dead boy’s body sprawled out in the road. His mother was weeping over him while his little brother was smiling and waving at passing cars. I waved back.

afg 4

3.

I woke up tired in half a shipping container. I popped on my PT gear, grabbed my plastic box of personal hygiene supplies, and walked to the closest bathroom shipping container. I shaved and came back to put on my uniform and strap on my gun.

My team held a morning meeting and I went over to the Afghan side where my brother and I discussed the importance of filling out proper consumption reports for fuel usage. While showing me why a form with 23 separate signatures from various high-ranking officers at the Logistics Depot and Ministry of Defense was rejected this time, my Afghan brother put his hand on my inner thigh. Whenever this happened I was never sure whether it was molestation or a cultural practice my prudish American sensibilities didn’t appreciate.

We had a mission that night. During the mission our Afghan partners found military-aged males on target, though none matching the description of our named objective. Our commander ordered the Afghans to bring them all back. The Afghans refused, saying there was no derogatory information on these farmers and we’d only make enemies. Our commander ordered the Afghans to bring them all back. The Afghans objected. Our commander ordered the Afghans to bring them all back. The Afghans brought them all back, we interviewed them, and sent them on to be processed through the Afghan legal system.

I walked back to the American side with my friends/our interpreters and colleagues. We greeted the interrogators as they made their way to the Afghan side to await the military-aged males for processing. After sending emails explaining why I couldn’t attend a national level teleconferenced logistics meeting due to the night’s mission I splashed water on my face in the shipping container as the morning shift was getting ready for their 12-hours in our Joint Operations Center. I went to sleep.

I woke up tired in half a shipping container. I put on my PT gear and shaved. Then I came back, put on my uniform, and strapped on my gun.

I prepared for our daily afternoon update in our Joint Operations Center. During the update we discussed the military-aged males taken off the objective the previous night. Our commander ordered us to name the military-aged males with target series nomenclature so they’d count in our official statistics of killing or capturing enemy targets.

We included the farmers in our official statistics and he included those statistics in his Officer Evaluation Review. He was later promoted to full Colonel. Even later he was pulled over for a speeding ticket on base, which ended up in the base newspaper. If the wrong general saw the story, the incident probably ruined his career.

At the prison, when no derogatory information could be found, the Afghan police released the farmers and gave them American money for a car trip back to their village.

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4.

I woke up tired in half a shipping container. I popped on my uniform and strapped on my gun.

My team held a morning meeting, during which we were told our commander had yelled at the Afghan commander the previous evening and threatened to have him fired. There’d never been a green-on-blue incident with our partner unit, so as a group, lead by our commander, we decided to categorize our personal risk as low. We walked over and had normal meetings with our Afghan brothers.

Later, while reading the news, I saw that an Afghan man had driven his motorcycle into a volleyball game and blown up 40-some children.

Afghan 5

5.

I woke up tired in half a shipping container. I popped on my uniform and strapped on my gun.

A Special Forces unit at a base down the road overheard an Afghan truck driver say over the phone there was a truck full of explosives on its way to our base. They’d called members of our base’s Special Forces team with a warning.

Later that day our Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialist popped into his armor and went to investigate a truck parked outside our gate that matched the description. While investigating the truck in full kit, he met the Afghan Deputy Commander, who’d walked out to the vehicle wearing cloth.

Inside our wooden office hut on our base, I watched one of the pirated movies the US government allows the military to steal from the entertainment industry during deployments. I checked Facebook and saw lots of posts arguing over the color of a dress. I posted in anger.

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6.

I woke up tired in a room under a pile of blankets I’d found on the bed I’d collapsed onto in Kandahar.

We were in the middle of a multi-day combat operation following an unsuccessful hostage rescue. I walked to the Joint Operations Center and relieved my friend so he could sleep. I spent the rest of the day with my Afghan brothers monitoring the situation from intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms.

When our team returned, I spoke with another friend and interpreter about his experiences. It seems when his team landed next to the target house, a man had run out holding a young child in one arm and an AK-47 in the other. Our team’s interpreters and partner unit yelled at him to stop multiple times, but he kept running towards them. When they took the shot his vest exploded.

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