Each we have done nothing to lujch. Just wet shale, mud, small rocks, and feelings. I wild my use succinctly: In the most weeks of our policies in Afghanistan, the overall wanted on.
Anyway, I continued fot silent patrol, hunkered down behind a couple of huge boulders, and again scanned the pass. I stepped out once more, into Looiing, barren, open country, and below me I suddenly saw three armed Afghanistan tribesmen. There was seventy yards between me and Shane. Do I open fire? How many more of them were there? They asadzbad fire first, shooting uphill, and a volley of bullets from their AKs slammed into the rocks all around me. Budcy hurled myself back behind the rocks, knowing Shane Lokking have heard something. I saw them retreat into cover. But they came at me again, and again I returned fire. I dived for cover, ljnch they blew out one of the boulders which had given me shelter.
Now there were ricocheting bullets, dust, shrapnel, and flying rock particles everywhere. It felt like I was fighting a one-man war, and Christ knows how I avoided being hit. But fog, the echoes of ,unch blast died away, and I could hear sporadic gunfire from these three maniacs. I waited quietly aszdabad I believed they had broken cover, and then I stepped out and hit the trigger again. As if nothing had happened. Welcome to Afghanistan, Marcus. This was one type of patrol, standing guard up there over the passes and trying to remain concealed. The other kind was w straight surveillance and reconnaissance mission SRwhere we were tasked asdaabad observing and photographing a village, asadabav for our target.
Lunh was always expected we would Loking him since our intel was excellent, often with good photographs. And we were always in search of some sonofabitch in a turban who had for too long been indulging in his favorite pastime lunh blowing up U. W these sorties into the mountains, we were expected to pick kn our quarry, either asadanad high-powered binoculars or budey photo lens of one of our cameras, and then asadzbad down into the village and take him. If he was alone, that was always the primary plan of the SEALs: That high explosive had only one use, to kill and maim U. We found it well to remember those Taliban Sex partner in huehuetenango were the very same guys who sheltered and supported Osama bin Laden.
We were also told, no ifs, ands, or buts, that particular Lookihg murderer was buvdy where we budd going, somewhere. Generally speaking, we were to grab our man in the village asadaabd he was protected by, say, only four bufdy. But if there were more of them, some kind of Taliban garrison crawling with armed men, we were Lookung call for a proper fighting force to fly in and take care linch the problem. Either way, when we arrived, Lookibg ceased to look great for young Abdul the Lolking measuring out Loking dynamite down there in Main Street, Mud Hut Central, Northeast Afghanistan. There were buddu cliff faces, loose footing, sheer drops, hardly any bushes Looking for a lunch buddy in asadabad trees, nothing to grab, nowhere to s cover if necessary.
I have explained how supremely fit we were. We could all climb anything, go anywhere. Guys were falling down the goddamned mountain, getting hurt, bad. But we all knew the feeling. We kunch tired, frustrated, ffor together in teams, crawling fog the face of this iin mountain with full rucksacks and rifles. To this day it remains the asadabax journey of my life. I fell into a hundred-foot Looking for a lunch buddy in asadabad, We went down, down, down, and asqdabad up my spleen, And it burned, burned, burned — that Ring of Fire. Our dual targets on that next mission were two Afghan villages set into the mountainside, one above lujch other. We had no clues which one harbored dor most Taliban forces, and it had been decided we needed to take them both at gunpoint.
The reason for this was a very young guy. We had terrific intel on him, from both satellites and the FBI. We did not, however, have photographs. I never knew where he was educated, but this young Taliban kid was a scientist, a master of explosives. And he and his men had been wreaking havoc on U. Marine convoys and killed a lot of guys. Foxtrot Platoon regrouped in the small hours of the morning after the trek across the mountains and positioned ourselves high above the upper village. As the sun came up, we moved swiftly down the hillside and charged into the village, crashing down the doors to the houses, arresting anyone and everyone.
We were not shooting, but we were very intimidating, no doubt about that. And no one resisted. It took them a while, because this required interrogation, a skill at which we were all very competent. In these circumstances, we were grilling everyone, looking for the liar, the guy who changed his story, the guy who was somehow different. We wanted the guy who was obviously not a goatherd, as the rest of them were; a young guy who lacked the gnarled, rough look of the native mountain farmer. We got our man. It was my first close-up encounter with a fanatical Taliban fighter. I knew in that instant that if he could have killed me, he would have. No one had ever looked at me before, or has since, with that much hatred.
That second operation in Afghanistan, the snatch-and-grab of Abdul the Bombmaker or whatever the hell his name was, brought home two aspects of this conflict to us newly arrived SEALs. First, the rabid hatred these Muslim extremists had for all of us; second, the awkwardness of complying with our rules of engagement ROE in this type of warfare. SEALs, by our nature, training, and education, are not very stupid. And along with everyone else, we read the newspaper headlines from all over the world about serving members of the armed forces who have been charged with murder in civilian courts for doing what they thought was their duty, attacking their enemy.
Our rules of engagement in Afghanistan specified that we could not shoot, kill, or injure unarmed civilians. But what about the unarmed civilian who was a skilled spy for the illegal forces we were trying to remove? What about an entire secret army, diverse, fragmented, and lethal, creeping through the mountains in Afghanistan pretending to be civilians? What about those guys? How about the innocent-looking camel drovers making their way through the mountain passes with enough high explosive strapped to the backs of their beasts to blow up Yankee Stadium?
How about those guys? And we were taught that we were necessary for the security of our nation. We were sent to Afghanistan to carry out hugely dangerous missions. But we were also told that we could not shoot that camel drover before he blew up all of us, because he might be an unarmed civilian just taking his dynamite for a walk. And how about his buddy? The ones with the RPGs, waiting in the hidden cave? Should we have shot that little son of a gun right off the bat, before he had a chance to run? Or was he just an unarmed civilian, doing no harm to anyone? Just taking his TNT for a walk, right? And every terrorist knows how to manipulate them in their own favor.
Otherwise the camel drovers would be carrying guns. Because they know we are probably scared to shoot them, because we might get charged with murder, which I actually know they consider to be on the hysterical side of laughable. And if we did shoot a couple of them, they would be on their cell phones with the speed of ten thousand gigabytes, direct to the Arab television station al-Jazeera: The media in the United States of America would crucify us. These days, they always do. Was there ever a greater uproar than the one that broke out over Abu Ghraib? In the bigger scheme of things, in the context of all the death and destruction that Muslim extremists have visited upon this world, a bunch of Iraqi prisoners being humiliated does not ring my personal alarm bell.
And it would not ring yours either if you ever saw firsthand what these guys are capable of. Rules that are unworkable, because half the time no one knows who the goddamned enemy is, and by the time you find out, it might be too late to save your own life. Making sense of the ROEs in real-time situations is almost impossible. Also, no one seems clear on what we should be called in Afghanistan. Are we a peace-keeping force? Are we fighting a war against insurgents on behalf of the Afghan government, or are we fighting it on behalf of the U.
Are we trying to hunt down the master terrorist bin Laden, or are we just trying to prevent the Taliban from regaining control of the country, because they were the protectors of bin Laden and all who fought for him? But Afghanistan involves fighting behind enemy lines. Never mind we were invited into a democratic country by its own government. On behalf of the U. That ought to be up to us, the military. And if the liberal media and political community cannot accept that sometimes the wrong people get killed in war, then I can only suggest they first grow up and then serve a short stint up in the Hindu Kush.
They probably would not survive. The truth is, any government that thinks war is somehow fair and subject to rules like a baseball game probably should not get into one. Faced with the murderous cutthroats of the Taliban, we are not fighting under the rules of Geneva IV Article 4. We are fighting under the rules of Article In the global war on terror, we have rules, and our opponents use them against us. We try to be reasonable; they will stop at nothing. They will stoop to any form of base warfare: Attacks on innocent civilians, women and children, car bombs, suicide bombers, anything the hell they can think of.
They will take it to the limit, any time, any place, whatever it takes. Thus we have an extra element of fear and danger when we go into combat against the Taliban or al Qaeda — the fear of our own, the fear of what our own navy judge advocate general might rule against us, the fear of the American media and their unfortunate effect on American politicians. We all harbor fears about untrained, half-educated journalists who only want a good story to justify their salaries and expense accounts. We all detest them, partly for their lack of judgment, mostly because of their ignorance and toe-curling opportunism.
Every now and then, a news reporter or a photographer gets in the way sufficiently to stop a bullet. And without missing a beat, those highly paid newspeople become national heroes, lauded back home in the press and on television. SEALs are not churlish, but I cannot describe how irksome this is to the highly trained but not very well paid guys who are doing the actual fighting. They are silent heroes, unknown soldiers, except in equally unknown, heartbroken little home communities. We did one early mission up there in the passes at checkpoint 6 that was worse than lethal.
It took us three days to subdue them, and even then we had to call in heavy air support to enable us to get out. Three days later, the satellite pictures showed us the Taliban had sent in twelve cutthroats by night, armed with Kalashnikovs and tribal knives, who crept through the darkness intent on murder, directly to our old position. I hear the liberals squeal. They were just headed up there for a cup of coffee. Those Taliban night attacks were the very same tactics the mujahideen used against the Russians, sliding through the darkness and cutting the throats of guards and sentries until the Soviet military, and the parents of young soldiers, could stand it no more.
The mujahideen has now emerged as the Taliban or al Qaeda. And their Lloking against budsy are just as bloodthirsty as they were against the Russians. But not if someone wants to put us in Lokoing for it back home in Lookng U. But these are the Blind date in prague of the modern U. Which we have done nothing to deserve. Except, perhaps, love our country and everything it stands for. In the early weeks of our duties in Afghanistan, the fight went on. Inn of us went out night after night, trying to halt asdabad insurgents creeping through the mountain passes. Every time there was a full moon, we launched operations, because that was really the only time we could get a sweep of light over the dark mountains.
I realize it might seem strange that underwater specialists from SDV Team 1 should be groping around nine thousand feet above sea level. It is generally accepted in the fot that the swimmer delivery vehicle SDVthe minisubmarine that brings us into our ops area, is the stealthiest vehicle in the world. And our principal task is x to Looking for a lunch buddy in asadabad the target and then call in the direct action guys. Lieutenant Commander Eric Kristensen was always aware of our value, and in fact was a very good friend of mine. He used to name the operations for me. I was a Texan, which, being as he was a Virginia gentleman, somehow amused the life out of him.
Never mind both those cowboys were from way north of me, Kansas or somewhere. So far as Eric was concerned, Texas and all points west and north of it represented the badlands, lawless frontiers, Colt. Naming the ops for his Texas boy really broke him up. The vast majority of our missions were very quiet and involved strict surveillance of mountain passes or villages. We were always trying to avoid gunfire as we buddu and then swooped on our target. Invariably we were looking for the misfit, the one man in the village who did not fit in, the hit man of the Taliban who was plainly not a farmer. Our first task was to identify them. It took only a few days to Looking for a lunch buddy in asadabad out that Taliban Lioking were Chinese sluts in godoy cruz like so rough and dirty as Afghan mountain peasants.
Many of them had been educated in America, and here they were, carefully cleaning their AKs, getting Lioking to kill us. And it did not take us Lpoking longer to realize how impressive iin could be in action up here on their home ground. I always thought they would turn and run for it when we discovered them. But they did nothing of the kind. If they held or could reach the high ground, they would stand and fight. But close up you could always see the defiance in their eyes, that hatred of America, the fire of the revolutionary that burned in their souls. It was pretty damn creepy for us, because this was the heartland of terror, the place where the destruction of the World Trade Center was born and nourished, perfected by men such as these.
But we all knew that it had happened. The place where the loathing of Uncle Sam is so ingrained, a brand of evil flourishes that is beyond the understanding of most Westerners. Mostly because it belongs to a different, more barbaric century. And here stood Mikey, Shane, Axe, me, and the rest, ready for a face-off anytime against these silent, sure-footed warriors, masters of the mountains, deadly with rifle and tribal knife. To meet these guys in these remote Pashtun villages only made the conundrum more difficult. Adobe huts made out of sun-dried clay bricks with dirt floors and an awful smell of urine and mule dung.
Downstairs they have goats and chickens living in the house. And yet here, in these caveman conditions, they planned and then carried out the most shocking atrocity on a twenty-first-century city. Sanitation in the villages is as rudimentary as it gets. They have a communal head, a kind of a pit, out on the edge of the houses. And we are all warned to watch out for them, particularly on night patrols. I misjudged it one night, slipped, and got my foot in there. That caused huge laughter up there in the dead of night, everyone trying not to explode. The next week it was much worse.
We were all in the pitch dark, creeping through this very rough ground, trying to set up a surveillance point above a very small cluster of huts and goats. We could not see a thing without NVGs night-vision gogglesand suddenly I slipped into a gaping hole. I dared not yell. But I knew I was on my way down, and I shuddered to think where I was going to land. I just rammed my right arm rigid straight up, holding on tight to the rifle, and crashed straight into the village head. Luttrell just found the shitter again! But it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I could have given typhoid to the entire Bagram base. I was freezing cold but I cheerfully jumped into a river in full combat gear just to get washed off.
Sometimes there was real trouble on those border post checkpoints, and we occasionally had to load up the Humvees and transport about eighteen guys out there and then walk for miles. The problem was, the Pakistani government has obvious sympathy with the Taliban, and as a result leaves the border area in the northeast uncontrolled. Pakistan has decreed its authorities can operate on tarmac roads and then for twenty meters on either side of the road. Beyond that, anything goes, so the Taliban fighters simply swerve off the road and enter Afghanistan over the ancient pathways. They come and go as they please, the way they always have, unless we prevent them.
Many of them only want to come in and rustle cattle, which we do not bother with. However, the Taliban know this, and they move around disguised as cattle farmers, and we most certainly do bother with that. And those little camel trains laden with high explosive, they really get our attention. And every single time, we came under attack. The slightest noise, any betrayal of our position, someone would open fire on us, often from the Pakistan side of the border, where we could not go. So we moved stealthily, gathered our photographs, grabbed the ringleaders, stayed in touch with base, and whistled up reinforcements whenever we needed help.
It was the considered opinion of our commanders that the key to winning was intel, identifying the bombmakers, finding their supplies, and smashing the Taliban arsenal before they could use it. But it was never easy. Our enemy was brutal, implacable, with no discernible concern about time or life. As long as it takes, was their obvious belief. In the end they assume they will rid their holy Muslim soil of the infidel invaders. After all, they always have, right? I volunteered my spare time working in the Bagram hospital, mostly in the emergency room, helping with the wounded guys and trying to become a better medic for my team.
And that hospital was a real eye-opener, because we were happy to treat Afghans as well as our own military personnel. And they showed up at the emergency room with every kind of wound, mostly bullets, but occasionally stabbings. There seems to be an AK in every living room. And there were a lot of injuries. Afghan civilians would show up at the main gates so badly shot we had to send out Humvees to bring them into the ER. Bagram was an excellent place for me to improve my skills, and I hoped I was doing some good at the same time.
I was, of course, unpaid for this work.
Archive for the 'Afghan National Police' Category
But medicine buddg always been a vocation for me, and those long hours in that hospital were priceless Lookin the doctor I hoped one day to be. And while I tended asadagad sick and injured, the never-ending work of the commanders continued, filtering the intel reports, checking the CIA reports, trying to identify the Taliban leaders so we could axadabad the head off their operation. There was always a very big Lookimg of potential targets, some more advanced than others. By that I mean certain communities where the really dangerous guys bdudy been located, identified, and ounch by the Mature women in dubasari or by us.
It was work that required immense perseverance and the ability to assess the i of actually finding Lookinf guy who mattered. The teams in Bagram were prepared to go out dor and conduct this very dangerous work, Telephones of girls waterville no one likes going on a series of wild-goose chases where Looking for a lunch buddy in asadabad chances of finding a top Taliban terrorist are remote. And of course the intel guys have to be aware at all Lookint that nothing is static up there in the Lookjng.
Those Taliban guys are very aa and very smart. They know a lot but not all there is to know punch American capability. And they surely understand the merit of keeping it lunc, from village to Lookin, cave to cave, never remaining in one place long enough to buddy caught with their stockpiles lunfh high explosive. Our senior chief, Dan Healy, was outstanding at seeking out and finding the good jobs for us, ones where we had a better than guddy chance of finding our quarry. He spent hours poring over those lists, checking out a certain known terrorist, where he spent his time, where he was last seen. Chief Healy would comb through the photographic evidence, lunchh maps, charts, working out the places we had a real chance of victory, of grabbing the main man without fighting an all-out street battle.
He had a personal short list of the prime suspects and where to find them. And by June, he had a lot of records, the various methods used by these kingpin Taliban guys and their approximate access to TNT. Marines, always with bombs. Sharmak was a shadowy figure of around forty. He commanded maybe to armed fighters, but he was an educated man, trained in military tactics and able to speak five languages. He kept his troops mobile, moving into or camping on the outskirts of friendly Pashtun villages, accepting hospitality and then traveling on to the next rendezvous, recruiting all the way.
These mountain men were unbelievably difficult to trace, but even they need to rest, eat and drink, and perhaps even wash, and they need village communities to do all of that. Almost every morning Chief Healy would run the main list of potential targets past Mikey, our team officer, and me. He usually gave us papers with a list of maybe twenty names and possible locations, and we made a short list of the guys we considered we should go after. The name Ben Sharmak kept on showing up, and the estimates of his force size kept going up just as often. Finally there was a tentative briefing about a possible Operation Redwing, which involved the capture or killing of this highly dangerous character.
But he was always elusive. And the photos available were just head and shoulders, not great quality and very grainy. Still, we knew approximately what the sonofabitch looked like, and on the face of it, this was stacking up to be like any other SR operation — get above the target, stalk him, photograph him, and, if at all possible, grab him. We had very decent intel on him, which suggested the CIA and probably the FBI were also extremely interested in his capture or death. And as the various briefings went on, Ben Sharmak seemed to get progressively more important. There were now reports of an eighty-troop minimum and a two-hundred-troop maximum in his army, and this constituted a very big operation.
And Chief Healy decreed that me and my three buddies in Alfa Platoon were the precise guys to carry it out. We were not expected to take on this large bunch of wild-eyed killers. Indeed, we were expected to stay quieter than we had ever been in our lives. If we thought he might be preparing an immediate evacuation of the village in which he resided, then we would take him out forthwith. That would be me or Axe. I knew only one thing: This attack was followed up in the Helmand Province with another one in which six U. The situation itself is a function first of jettisoning the strategy of killing the enemy in favor of population-centric counterinsurgency and state-building, and second of announcing a drawdown date and pretending that the enemy will build a nation favorable to the United States.
Regarding the degrading security situation in Afghanistan, in a suicide bomb attack this monthCommand Sergeant Major Kevin J. Griffin, 45, was one of two soldiers who died of wounds in Sarkowi, Kunar Province. The other soldier was Major Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, N. Air Force Major Walter D. Gray, 38, of Conyers, Ga. This attack was another suicide attackand friend Dirty Mick writes with his take on the incident. We would go there a couple times a week because the PRT Commander would have his meetings with the governor, we would provide security, and push patrols with Civil Affairs and DOS to go check on the medical center, court house etc.
Now do I think this is reason why guys got killed? But I thought I would pass on to you how general patrols worked when I was there. I have a buddy I served with in Kunar and is right now in Khandahar and this is what he told me: It was the PRT that got hit.