July 26, 2010

Behind the Afghan War Logs: Can’t Forgive, Won’t Forget?

A U.S. soldier with a 9/11 tattoo

With the massive release of the leaked Afghan War Logs, which tells us nothing that new but, instead, in a crushing and crystaline way, ties the entire futility together and ties a bow around it, I was reminded of this photo by Spencer Platt taken last January.

The picture shows a U.S. soldier inside a shelter during a rocket and mortar attack on one of those combat outposts — this one, near the border with Pakistan — set up in the hopes of winning the hearts and minds of (two-timing) villagers but consumed by the more immediate goal of not being completely overrun by the Taliban. (Beyond the tattoo, by the way, notice the map tucked into the vest.)

If the photo is clear about why we got into this, I’m just not sure what it speaks to now.

(caption: A U.S. soldier with a 9/11 tattoo stands with other soldiers inside a shelter during a rocket and mortar attack on Combat Outpost Zerak on Jan. 22. Nine mortars landed inside the base in Paktika Province, but no one was injured. The province, which is roughly the size of Vermont, shares a restive and porous border with Pakistan.)

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Michael Shaw
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