The Best Defense

A terrific look at the Afghan army: Embedding with Col. Daowood’s unit

My friend Bob Killebrew told me weeks ago to read the cover story about the Afghan army that ran Jan. 20 in the New York Times magazine. It is by one Luke Mogelson. I have no idea who he is, but he is impressive.

I finally got a chance to read the thing yesterday. It is really good, one of the best articles I have read about the Afghan war in a long time. Mogelson's bottom line :

The more time I spent with him, the clearer it became that Daowood [an Afghan army battalion commander] was practicing his own version of counterinsurgency, one that involved endearing himself to locals by characterizing as common enemies not only the Taliban but also the Americans and the Afghan government.

Mogelson also has some illuminating observations about the Afghan army soldiers. Sure, he says, they don't dress or march like crack troops. "But," he continues,

...they will also accept a much higher level of risk than any coalition force ever has. Their ranks are filled with tough and brave men who run toward the fight without body armor or helmets or armored vehicles and sleep on the frozen ground without sleeping bags and dig up IED's with a pickax and often go hungry and seldom complain.

Even if you are bored with the Afghan war -- read this one.

Jose CABEZAS/AFP/GettyImages


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