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Archive for October 16th, 2009|Daily archive page

Can’t ‘Stan Ya!

In Media, Politics, War on October 16, 2009 at 10:25 am

Spc. Zachery Boyd, wears pink 'I love NY' boxer shorts in a firefight with Taliban militants after rushing out of bed to join his fellow platoon members - Photo by David Guttenfelder/AP

There are two massive debates going on in this country right now. One is health care insurance reform. I’ve spent a lot more time on it than the other: Afghanistan.

To that point, there was a striking documentary by Richard Engel called Tip of the Spear that aired in relative purgatory last Saturday night on MSNBC. It should have aired on NBC. In prime time on Tuesday night. It’s online and worth watching, at least a segment or two if you’re strapped for time. In addition to the recent feature on Gen. McChrystal on 60 Minutes, it adds useful context to the issue.

It follows a group of soldiers in the Korengal Valley, a 30-square mile area with a mere 150 servicemen. The area has been nicknamed the Valley of Death because of its barely passable topography and deft Taliban presence. It’s much, much harder than Death Valley Rally. Its terrain is worse than the Aggro Crag.

The focus narrows on a remote outpost called Camp Restrepo, an apparent strategic high point in the area, manned by 20 guys. The conditions and supplies (aside from tons of mortars) leave something to be desired, but the guys are hardcore. They average a firefight with Taliban insurgents about 1.5 times a day. This includes the story of the soldier who ran to his post during a firefight in his “I Love NY” boxers.

On one day, Engel follows a troop as he heads out into the hills to a town, to be seen by Taliban. He’s live bait. He’s hoping for an ambush. The plan is to be attacked! This will lure hostiles, so that his American comrades can pop out of hiding and turn the tide. It’s utterly brave. Read the rest of this entry »