The book "Warrior Police" by Gordon Cucullu and Avery Johnson will be published by St. Martin's Press in 2011. This blog contains background notes, informal interviews, and photographs gathered during the Afghanistan research phase of the project... click here for a little more background on this blog, and enjoy!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Into the Hindu Kush Mountains
Soldiers from 3rd Platoon, 92nd MP Company say it has been improved over the past year and we passed considerable construction work on route. We also noted that most of the villages had what appeared to be a standard deep well for community use. One of the interpreters, "Bill," said that USAID was responsible for the clean water project.
Chamkani is a town of about 30,000 or so and is deep in Indian country. "See that road?" a sergeant pointed to a winding path leading south. "Right past there is all Taliban. We get into a fight every time we go there. The Special Forces work that area all the time."
Scenery-wise it is a million-dollar view, with sharp mountains rising on all sides and parallel ridgelines disappearing in the east into Pakistan's troubled tribal area (photo: Chamkani living quarters threatening to slide off the mountain above the parking lot, with the village in the valley below). Ultimately these mountains peak in Nepal with Everest and K-2.
Along the route we saw many of the nomadic Kochui people leading camels, herds of sheep and goats (mostly black lambs), donkeys, and horses.
These people follow the seasons and stay near water, so the low passes are ideal for them at this time of year. They decorate their animals with gaudy colors and pitch tents in community groups for temporary rest stops. (The photo shown here was also taken through bullet proof glass from a moving vehicle, therefore quality suffered a bit).
However, all is not calm here. Along the way we passed a patrol from the MPs based at the FOB who were engaged in a firefight with Taliban. They were accompanying Afghan security forces who had been fired on from ambush.
Chamkani was the scene of a fierce fight in the early days of the war when it was strictly a Special Forces compound. Now that MPs are there, the organic firepower they bring to the fight is an incentive for the Taliban to keep distant.
As we post this, we are back at Gardez preparing for an afternoon mission. Soon we will be at other FOBs and will be reporting on what we see and learn.