Night Ops

I cut-and-pasted this picture from the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) Facebook page. Taken through a night-vision scope, it depicts two men on a mission in a place called Sabari District, Khowst Province. Sabari was on my mind quite a bit when I was in Khowst, because it was the most dangerous place we operated. We could count on getting blown-up or shot at everytime we ventured there, and in-between the violence we were subjected to the stink-eye stare of its sullen, determinedly uncooperative residents. I don’t know exactly what the mission is of the men in the picture, but they are likely conducting a raid to snatch or kill a “High Value Target,” or waiting to ambush an IED emplacement team.

Update:  The picture below, of a kid staring down US soldiers in Sabari District, illustrates the hostile glare and body posture Afghans give you when they really really don’t want you around.  We used to call it “the gargoyle.”

Taken by Andrya Hill and entered in the "Why Afghanistan Matters" photo contest.

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2 Responses to “Night Ops”

  1. Chris Brown Says:

    Hey Pete,

    A serious question: are “gargoyles” suicide-bombers in the making or are they just momentarily moody?

    Best,
    Chris

  2. Peter Molin Says:

    Hard to tell, hard to tell. Afghan males, with little else to do, will sit and stare for hours at the desert or what passes for the passing parade. In meetings, those not actively involved in the discussion can zero in on the speakers with laser beam like intensity. But the sullen glare of the gargoyle pose contrasts so strongly with typical Afghan exhuberance and eagerness to interact that you have to think that it is coming from a deep, hateful place. In this picture, the youth of the boy is interesting. Just a few years or even months before this picture was taken, he would have, like all Afghan kids, been dancing with delight in the presence of Americans. Now it is clear that he has learned to view Americans with dark suspicion and hostility.

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