(A raw, unedited note from war.)
27 February 2011
The places have names like Sangin, Arghandab, Panjwai, Now Zad, Musa Qala, Korengal Valley, Pech Valley, Tarin Kot, or Chora. Names that mean almost nothing to most people, but everything to others. British, American, Dutch, Canadian, Australian, and others from far and wide, have fought and died in these places. Some lost arms, legs, eyes, their buddies, and sometimes their sanity, on these battlefields.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been at war here almost ten years. And so I am continuing a long tour of Afghanistan to discover what is going on here.
Today, I accompanied members of Central Asia Development Group (CADG). We drove from the town of Tarin Kot to the violent village of Chora. A quick web search for Chora will reveal countless articles about the heavy fighting. We took an extremely dangerous stretch of road. We saw nary a soldier, though I am told many have died here. Leonard Grami, the Urozgan Provincial Manager for CADG, reckons well over a hundred troops and Afghans have died on this stretch in the last 14 months, including some last week and last night.
Somehow we made it to Chora and saw that the USAID project seems to be doing fine, but while the managers checked the work, Afghan authorities dumped the body of a Taliban killed last night in nearby in fighting. They dumped him at a “traffic circle” underneath what they call “the steeple.” Men and boys flocked to the body and were so tight around him that they must have been almost stepping on him. When we arrived, they pulled back for a moment, and I made a panorama of these dangerous men. Danger was thick in the air so we did not stay long, and then we headed back across the desert to Tarin Kot.
Please take time to examine this panorama by scrolling around and using the controls or mouse to zoom in and out. Look at the faces of these men, and you’ll see the faces of Taliban.