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Sergeant Godsmack vs. Nazar


The ingredients for hatred: take two fistfuls of steaming anger, slam that anger into a bucket filled with slimy, smelly disgust fetched from a roach-filled outhouse. Stir that hot anger and wretched disgust and the result is hatred.

Hatred is a compound emotion consisting of anger and disgust.

Hatred can be super-boosted by fear. Toss in a dash of injustice, a scoop of frustration, and two squirts of testosterone, then put an automatic weapon in the corner, and see what happens. (For instant effect, stir in alcohol or other accelerant.)

We hate al Qaeda because they are disgusting. We fear them. They make us very, very angry.  So we chase them like roaches, and we blast them to smithereens, and we do not care what their mothers think.

When the Marines urinated on Taliban corpses, they demonstrated disgust and contempt for our enemy.  Afghans were disgusted and angry. If Taliban defecated on the faces of dead Marines, then laughed about it, and published the video on the Internet, many Americans would call for genocide.

“Crazy” is not needed to commit mass murder. Anger will pull the trigger.  Hate will take it to mutilation.

The overall professionalism of our forces remains strongly intact, yet it would not be surprising to see another massacre, especially in the immediate aftermath of an insider attack, or other stress incident. That such retaliation is historically uncommon is testimony to the discipline of our troops, not to mention indicative that their American character remains whole, with the exception of a very few.

Panjway-US-forces-8572cc1000Panjwai District: The majority of Afghan Soldiers are foreigners here.

Panjwai is a Pashtun area, while probably less than 2% of the Afghan National Army (ANA) are Pashtun.  NATO published that Southern Pashtuns were “up to 3.6% of ANA new recruits in January 2011.”  (What are the ethnicities of the Afghans committing insider attacks?)


Let’s talk about Panjwai.

I have been to Panjwai, and spent months in the general area of Kandahar City and Province, and the adjacent Arghandab River Valley.  The area has been a thunder zone for a decade.  Fighting occurs broadly and daily.

Panjway-US-forces-8584cc1000ANA outpost at Panjwai

Imagine a 15-year-old boy, born and raised in Panjwai.  His name is Nazar.  This war began when Nazar was about 4.  His birth date is unknown, but he was born before the harvest. If Nazar reaches thirty, and you ask his age or birthday, he might look at you curiously, as if you asked a random man his shoe size. He might smile at the strangeness of the question, and tell you that his age is about 35, but that he does not know.

At 15, Nazar has no television and no idea what New York is. Is that a fruit, or a vegetable? He has never heard of 9/11, or of Osama bin Laden.  He met some Navy SEALs when they killed his uncle. He heard that they were British or Russian. He knows that they were foreigners who shot his uncle—who was a Taliban commander.

Nazar’s family is illiterate, but they are not dumb.  There are two cows inside his family courtyard, chickens, a rooster, and a big kuchi dog.  Nazar bathes in the river.  For cooking and drinking, the family has a well inside the family compound. They haul water up using a bucket attached to a radiator belt.


In the summer, his family sleeps on a raised wooden platform under the stars.  At night he sees aircraft high above. Sometimes he can see and hear an AC-130 Spectre firing its cannon. The aircraft makes no flashes, but he can see the silhouette of the airplane against a million stars. The thumping of the cannon imitates the pounding of his heart, but much louder.  First comes the boom of the cannon, there is a long pause, and then a karuummph from the explosion. The loudest are the bombs, and after that, the strafing runs.


At night, helicopters and jets and Predator drones can see the white or black heat signatures of his family, their cows, and even their dog, but not their chickens.  Helicopters fly more when the moon is bright.

Nazar sees all sorts of helicopters. Sometimes they have Red Crosses on them, which his father says is a sign of the Crusaders. His father says that the helicopters with Red Crosses are good to see, because they cannot shoot down, and they come to retrieve the Crusaders killed by the Taliban. The Taliban love to see the Red Crosses, and they laugh and celebrate when they fly over.

Dustoff-IMG 8019-1000aOur symbol of failure: “Crusader Copter” at FARP in Afghanistan. The Army has a Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing going with the Red Crosses. The crosses are big enough to underscore incompetent Army leadership, but small enough that anyone pretending to abide by the Geneva Conventions can make a strong case for not seeing them. Taliban love the Red Crosses: The crosses show that the helicopters have no machine guns, and also that they are coming to pick up dead Crusaders. After years of pretending to follow a “COIN” (counterinsurgency) strategy, the Army still uses a symbol associated with the Crusades by most Afghans.

Panjway-US-forces-8652cc1000Games in the sand

Nazar and his friends have never seen a computer. They play with sticks and rocks and drawings in the dirt. When the children get their hands on a mobile phone, they take it and play games until the battery dies.

Panjway-US-forces-8592cc1000Grape Rows: Russians, Canadians and US forces have taken many casualties in the vineyards. The squat building in the background is for drying grapes to raisins. The enemy uses these buildings, and so we often flatten them.

Nazar’s home has been raided and searched dozens of times, and there are bullet scars on its walls. In the winter, his family lives in Pakistan.

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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