Sunday, February 24, 2008

Captain Kearney's Quagmire

I hate to let reality intrude on our food dreams, but this riveting story in today's New York Times Magazine is don't miss reading. It's not a reality that 99.99% of us would have any idea about. But it is the reality faced daily by Army Captain Dan Kearney in the Korengal River valley in northeastern Afghanistan. As told by NYT reporter Elizabeth Rubin...and man or woman, I can't imagine how she dealt with seeing the things she did...this tells the gripping story of Kearney trying to keep control of a valley filled with insurgents, ruled by people who don't want us there, and having his mission controlled by an Army seemingly content to keep sending men even younger than him into a place where the chances of coming out unscathed, physically or emotionally, are pretty much zero. To quote Rubin's story: 'Just before I left, Kearney told me his biggest struggle would be holding his guys in check. “I’ve got too many geeking out, wanting to go off the deep end and kill people,” he said. One of his lieutenants wanted to shoot every Afghan in the face.' Or these chilling word about one of his men: 'He worried that the Korengal was going to push them off the deep end. In his imagination it had already happened. One day an Afghan visited their fire base, Sandifer told me. “I was staring at him, on the verge of picking up my weapon to shoot him,” he said. “I know right from wrong, but even if I did shoot him everyone at the fire base would have been O.K. We’re all to the point of ‘Lord of the Flies.’ ”.

As I read it it was staggering to think these young men, all under 26, were facing situations that are so far beyond our imaginations. An awesome reporting job.

** as a reminder again, you can sign up at the New York Times website, , and read the paper for free us by registering your name and email. It's free...and spam free. Do it!

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