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Sergeant Godsmack vs. Nazar


The boys play war in the grape rows.  When the season is green, they can hide inside the grapevines, until the enemy is only a foot away. They know all the good ambush spots, and how to get to them and away. They are careful to avoid the bombs that the Taliban have buried.  Sometimes when Taliban from other areas come, they accidentally step on the bombs. His father is proud to say that a Canadian was killed in his grapes, and his blood made the grapes sweeter.

When the Canadian was killed, the helicopter with the Red Cross landed.  The villagers celebrated, because if not for the Red Cross, they would not know for certain that a Crusader was killed. The villagers heard the helicopter, and they rushed out in time to see the Red Cross.  Calls went around, and they gathered in celebration.  Every time that the Red Cross flies, hundreds or even thousands of Afghans see it, and the Taliban gets free advertisement for their success.

Panjway-US-forces-8603cc1000Afghans keep derelict fighting vehicles all over the country as monuments to defeated enemies. This one in Panjwai.

The boys play war using the same ambush spots that their grandfathers used to attack Russians.  The same places where their fathers hid to kill the Canadians, and now, the Americans.

Panjway-US-forces-8656cc1000Panjwai, near the river. The vehicles were ours.

Nazar’s skin will never know air conditioning or electric heating.  He has never heard of toilet paper or seen a flush toilet.  His mothers cooks over a fire, and they have no electricity.  His father wants revenge for the death of his brother, and he believes that he got it many times, with the bombs that he buries.

Panjway-US-forces-8657cc1000Panjwai: You know that you are a redneck when your house has horns.

Panjway-US-forces-8587cc1000Panjwai: Those two men on the roof have a machine gun and they are not with us.

Panjway-US-forces-8576cc1000Panjwai: Our movement is often channelized. Bombs are dug into the walls, or buried underground, and grenades are thrown from concealment. This way of warfare is cheap, it is easy, and it works. It is not readily negated.

Panjway-US-forces-8677cc1000Mobile phone advertisement in Kandahar City, about 14 miles from Panjwai.

It is unlikely that Taliban in Panjwai would put up with al Qaeda these days. For instance, graveyards are adorned in a way that al Qaeda would find intolerable.  This has caused frictions in the past.

BlackBerrys and iPhones work, other than in areas where the Taliban coerces telecommunications companies to turn off the towers at night. The Taliban like cell phones, but they also know that we track them.

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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