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Up-Close Fighting In The Korengal Valley

To add something of an update to my piece today about Ahmed Rashid’s new book about the U.S in Afghanistan, Yochi Dreazen of the Wall Street Journal has a riveting dispatch from Afghanistan’s remote Korengal Valley.

Modern warfare is often remote and impersonal. Battle Company’s fight has been unusually intimate. The unit’s soldiers are often only a few feet away from militants when they exchange gunfire or throw grenades at each other. The men in the unit know which villages house the most insurgents and can watch militants through long-range surveillance cameras. The soldiers often know the names of the militants involved in specific attacks that killed or maimed their friends.

Last year, a roadside bomb severely wounded a close friend of Capt. Dan Kearney, Battle Company’s commander. A few months later, Capt. Kearney’s men killed the man responsible.

"He had blown up one of my best friends," Capt. Kearney told a visiting officer. "It was pretty damn awesome to be able to tell my friend, ‘Hey, I killed him.’"

Also today, an Afghan friend of Barnett Rubin — a source for my piece — sends this description of life in Kandahar, the Taliban’s hometown:

I am writing from Kandahar. It is hell hot here–both literally and figuratively. The temperature is around 40 degrees on centigrade. The heat is especially unbearable during mid days when the sun is strong. And there is almost no electricity in this city. During the Taliban time Kandahar had at least 12 hours of electricity in 24 hours, now days pass here without a blink of electricity. Normally though we have 4 hours of electricity in 2 days. And the political situation has never been as bad here in the last seven years as it is now. There is a general discontent among the people. While a few corrupt government officials are embezzling lots of money, the rest of the population is even deprived of the facilities that it had seven years ago like–electricity, drinking water, and security. The Taliban are using this pathetic situation to their benefit. With the help of local population the Taliban now manage to carry out attacks within the city like the spectacular attack on Kandahar prison last month–and they will not stop there. In Kandahar, time is definitely on Taliban’s side.

Now would be a totally awesome time to start a war with Iran!

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