August 2008 Entries
This is the first blog entry for Boots on the Ground. Who is the author of this blog anyway?
Here's something you probably didn't see on the nightly news yesterday. At least not if you were watching CNN.
Paktia Province, Afghanistan.
The Medevac Helicopter banked sharply over a chaotic scene being played out on the road below. The charred and twisted hulk of what had been an armored Humvee lay smoldering, surrounded by a circle of debris thrown up by the blast that destroyed it. Soldiers crouched alongside the road, scanning the surrounding hillsides for the Taliban snipers which had opened fire on them after the IED detonated.
Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan.
Bagram Air Base near Kabul, Afghanistan
Blindfolded and bound, the detainees sat across from me, silent and impassive, though they were surely scared out of their wits by the experience of riding on a helicopter for the first time in their lives. I'd watched them march single file out onto the tarmac, eyes covered with blacked out goggles and holding to each others shoulders, flanked by armed Marines and led by an interpreter. It would be the height of understatement to say these men's lives would never be the same.
The Marines moved out on patrol this morning just after sunrise, moving on foot into the village of Sangin Khan, about two kilometers to the west. It's a medium-sized hamlet of about a 100 interconnected mud-walled compounds, surrounded by miles of dark-green fields, most of which are currently planted in corn.
After the IED strike of August 3 in which two Marines were wounded and their Humvee destroyed, the 1/6 commanders are on the hunt for those responsible. Yesterday, I accompanied a foot patrol of more than 100 Marines from our base at Strong Point Bravo to the village closest to the site of the attack. Despite the 120-degree heat, and the fact that each Marine is loaded down with body armor, helmet, weapon and gear, we covered the two miles from the base to the village in just under 40 minutes, w
Ninety-seven days and counting. The Marines of the 24th MEU came here in April on a seven-to-ten day mission to push out the Taliban in this area. They enjoyed initial success, meeting heavy resistance and wiping out large numbers of enemy fighters until violence dropped to almost nothing and the residents of the area, who had fled into the desert to avoid the Taliban, began returning to their homes.