Ghost Wars

Wars pile upon wars in Afghanistan. The old ones linger on, making the new ones even more complicated. While on an operation here, we were tipped off that an old Soviet scout vehicle lay buried in a nearby cave. Back in the day, the mujahedeen had stolen the vehicle and hid it there. The Soviets, suspecting where it was, bombed the hillside above the cave and collapsed the cave roof. The locals claimed that the vehicle was still in there, perfectly preserved, along with the remains of six mujahedeen martyrs also buried in the landslide.

Recovering the vehicle excited the Afghan soldiers with whom I work. War trophies are important to them, especially ones that might help establish their links to the glorious mujahedeen. The soldiers set to work with a purpose, and received plenty of help from us. After two-and-a-half days we extracted the hulk shown in the picture. Ruined beyond transport or repair, and useless as a trophy, we had to blow it in place and then remove the parts. We couldn’t leave it where it lay, even in bits and pieces. The locals would sell the scrap in Pakistan for good money, and I suspect the soldiers wanted to do the same. One officer pointed to a piece of machined metal, from the transmission or drivetrain, and said it would be worth $100 US in Pakistan. But there were other, more sinister reasons why we had to remove the scrap. The officer explained that almost every bit of it could and would be recycled into bombs and weapons meant to hurt us.

And we didn’t find any mujahedeen remains, either.
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3 Responses to “Ghost Wars”

  1. Chris Brown Says:

    Hey Pete,

    Fascinating stuff! I think this is the first time you’ve mentioned the Soviet era of Afghanistan. Your references to the ghost war and the Soviets made me automatically think, “The Return of the Repressed.”

    It occurs to me that when you return to West Point to teach, you have in this blog and photo an incredibly rich semiotic approach for your theory class. I can see the week’s topic, “Roland Barthes and Mythologies for the Twenty-first Century.”

    Best,
    Chris

  2. Pedaldrive Says:

    As Mr. Levin would always say “the truth is stranger than fiction.” Who would believe this if it was fiction? Incredible that after seven years of the Americans being over there things like APCs buried in a mountain are still being discovered.

    This entry also shows the diference between the American presense and that of the Russians. Whereas they fight next to the Americans they idolize the mujahedeen who would fight to the death against the Russians.

  3. Peter Molin Says:

    Pedaldrive–my brother–refers to Mr. Levin, one of our junior high history teachers.

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