Michael's Dispatches

Bad Medicine

 

As the shadows grew longer, the British and ANA began playing volleyball while EOD kept blowing up charges along Pharmacy Road.

When people complain about the British rations, I think of Laxle Kedian Harris, more commonly known as “H.”  I offered some weightlifting tips but H laughed and changed the subject.  But make no mistake—the rations are . . . to put it kindly, bland.

It’s dangerous to leave a camera unguarded around soldiers.  It could have been much worse.

That night, we stayed in the field because the mission was not merely to clear Pharmacy Road, but to build a sanger (guard position) about halfway down—one which would be constantly manned.  While we slept, soldiers from 2 Rifles and the engineers worked all night erecting the sanger.

After a long, hot day taking back Pharmacy Road.

Some work while others sleep.

And that was it.  Pharmacy Road was cleared and the sanger was built and most of us headed back to FOB Jackson just as the sun was rising on the second day.

Later that afternoon, back on FOB Jackson during the Battle Update Briefing (as Americans would call it), a BOOM shook the room.  Word came that a local person was pulling parts from one of the vehicles that were dragged off Pharmacy Road.  He encountered a Taliban booby-trap and he was killed.  EOD had not cleared the vehicles of booby-traps; the two vehicles had merely been pulled off the road.  Next day another local was killed on a parallel road that he thought the British had cleared.  It had not been cleared.  The Taliban blows up a lot of local people in Sangin.

The mission was an obvious success.  It was surprising that we endured no fatalities or serious injuries.  The mission was well-executed and since many of the soldiers have substantial combat experience from Iraq and Afghanistan, major dramas were averted.  Murphy had smiled upon us.  The only injury to my knowledge was the soldier who fell off the ladder.  Soldiers who had previously fought on Pharmacy Road said we had sustained about twenty fatalities and injuries in that general area.  And though at least one IED has been placed on the road since last week, C Coy and the ANA are now regularly patrolling and the freedom of movement has resumed.

This is a brutal fight.  Since that mission, eight more British soldiers and two interpreters have been killed in this area.  That’s ten KIA plus the wounded.  The soldiers keep going.

Coming up next: the fighting we saw on election day wherein the soldier beside me got his antenna shot off.

 

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