I sit in a broken green lawnchair, writing. It is hot here: the sunlight is overwhelming, and even in shade the temperature is easily in triple digits; nightfall-the only respite anyone can hope for-is a long way off, and in the meantime there is little to do except sweat, and wait. Everything takes longer than it should: sand trickles through the hourglass in fitful spurts: the sky is swollen with the day’s heat, throbbing with its own pulse. I sit in a dusty, broken hell; I sit in the Helmand River Valley.…Read on
People often call the conflict in Afghanistan “The Forgotten War,” a broad statement that misses the point on why the going has been so slow, 8 years this October, and why, until recently, there has been little spoken of it. Afghanistan was not forgotten so much as poorly-remembered; picked up and dusted off whenever pundits and politicians saw use in it: whether to compare it to its brother-war in Iraq, held up as an example of International Cooperation, or used as a simple prop by those in need of a beacon of “success” in the region.…Read on
The village of Kamu is only a brief walk from COP Lowell, and every month a MEDCAP mission is dispatched to provide medical assistance for locals. As the doctors work on the villagers a crowd of young boys swarm about the doctors like a cloud of gnats, waiting for the sweets inevitably passed out. Every one of the boys old enough to walk a straight line is armed with a slingshot, home-made, an obvious source of pride in a place where personal possessions are few and far between, and a physical connection to their past.…Read on
In daylight the mountains that surround Lowell took on a new, more dangerous significance. While at night they stood as singular, monolithic entities, the sun revealed them to be a mass of trees and valleys, stone wrinkles and ridgelines that provided ample cover to anyone who cared to attack the base, which, I was assured, was often.
I had known before coming to Lowell that it was under frequent attack, but the sheer volume of action it saw shocked me: COP Lowell is the most attacked post in both Iraq and Afghanistan, taking a staggering amount of indirect and assorted small-arms fire.…Read on
At long last we have arrived at Combat Outpost Lowell, but whatever relief I may feel at reaching our destination is tempered by knowledge of the certain danger we face here. Lowell is as far out as US forces go in this part of the world, and the degree of isolation faced by the soldiers here is something that anyone who has traveled here can attest to: my own experience in getting to Lowell certainly backs up this claim.
Our flight began, as many flights do, with a seemingly endless series of delays that stretched on for days.…Read on
The attack on Bariali did a great deal to diminish its infrastructure; much of the outpost had been burned, broken, or simply collapsed in the chaos, leaving little for International Forces to work with in the following days. This proved to be a matter of critical importance for the future of Bariali, as the infrastructure of any Observation Post is a hugely important matter for the soldiers who live and work within its walls.
Towers and watchposts provide valuable sightlines for International Forces, because as the attack on Bariali demonstrated, seeing the enemy coming is truly the first line of defense.…Read on
It is an unfortunate fact that sometimes stories are lost in the maelstrom of information that seems constant and, at times, overwhelming. Events that should be brought to our attention are often buried, relegated to a series of words at the bottom of television screen, numbers without context or meaning. Such is the case of Bariali, an Outpost that was attacked and ultimately overwhelmed by Taliban forces on May 1st of this year.
3 Americans, 2 Latvians, and 5 Afghanis were killed when enemy forces attacked the outpost at daybreak, superior numbers attacking with small arms fire and the element of surprise.…Read on