Tuesday, 12 December 2006

on film in afghanistan

Gruelling mountain marches, extreme temperature swings and dogged battles make Kunar the most physically punishing war for US troops since Vietnam. The Guardian joined one patrol that had walked 28 days, each man lugging a 40kg backpack. Several soldiers said they preferred their previous deployment, in Falluja, Iraq, because conditions were better there.

Money and videos play a large role in the fight. Locals recruited to target Americans must produce footage to ensure payment, said several officers and local officials. Survivors have the strange experience of watching attempts on their lives. Last April Lieutenant Brian Farrell drove over a roadside bomb that destroyed his Humvee truck. He escaped with a light wound but two months later relived the attack through the internet.

"I never wanted to be famous," quipped the fresh-faced 25-year-old, whose comrades poke fun about his "movie stardom". [Click here to see the video, filmed by insurgents, of the attack on Lt Farrell's vehicle.} But the joke is short-lived. Lt Farrell's regiment has suffered 156 casualties, including 19 deaths, since it deployed last March. Lt Farrell's own platoon counts two dead and six wounded.

- from an article on Afghanistan from the Guardian, Monday 4 December 2006.

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