Yesterday’s NY Times Magazine carried one of the best stories I’ve seen yet on our military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq — “Battle Company is Out There,” a riveting and deeply informative piece by Elizabeth Rubin about the difficulties (to put it lightly) faced by a company of soldiers trying to win the war on terror (and keep mind and body together) in the remote highlands of Afghanistan. Simply stunning reporting — relevant, compassionate, and frightfully immediate. This is reporting and writing on the level of Michael Herr’s Dispatches. (And I do not say this just because I sometimes write for the Magazine.)
Check it out at:
Battle Company Is Out There
by Elizabeth Rubin
There is also an excellent slide show of photographs by Lindsey Addario. (Warning: Some are a bit bloody.)
The story’s opening:
WE TUMBLED OUT of two Black Hawks onto a shrub-dusted mountainside. It was a windy, cold October evening. A half-moon illuminated the tall pines and peaks. Through night-vision goggles the soldiers and landscape glowed in a blurry green-and-white static. Just across the valley, lights flickered from a few homes nestled in the terraced farmlands of Yaka China, a notorious village in the Korengal River valley in Afghanistan%u2019s northeastern province of Kunar. Yaka China was just a few villages south and around a bend in the river from the Americans%u2019 small mountain outposts, but the area%u2019s reputation among the soldiers was mythic. It was a known safe haven for insurgents. American troops have tended to avoid the place since a nasty fight a year or so earlier. And as Halloween approached, the soldiers I was with, under the command of 26-year-old Capt. Dan Kearney, were predicting their own Yaka China doom.