Troops nicknamed Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley “Death Valley” for a reason.If it wasn’t the sheer amount of bombs dropped (more than in the rest of Afghanistan combined at one point), it was the number of American lives consumed during brutal, most often daily fire fights — usually for a matter of feet and inches.
The hard-fought swath of ground in this instance was Combat Outpost Restrepo, an offshoot of a bigger outpost, and more importantly, an offshoot won following a brutal fight in the wake of Juan “Doc” Restrepo’s death in combat.
Sadly, troops left Restrepo and the Korengal Valley without accomplishing much of anything. From a New York Times report:
Closing Korengal Outpost in Kunar Province, a powerful symbol of some of the Afghan war’s most ferocious fights, and a potential harbinger of America’s retreat, is a tacit admission that putting the base there in the first place was a costly mistake.
It cost 37 soldiers to be exact. Afghanistan has cost more than 2,100, and now America’s gearing up to leave, while citizens begin to openly wonder: was that a costly mistake as well?
Documentary filmmakers Sebastian Junger (left) and Tim Hetherington had extraordinary access with the men of 2nd Platoon, Battle Company.
When they get off the bird and head up the hill to the combat outpost (COP), the altitude hits and they start sucking wind.
And the enemy has the upper hand — often firing from above them, and running away at the sound of U.S. helicopters.
Most fights escalate to air strikes — in fact 70 per cent of all U.S. bombs in Afghanistan were dropped in the Korengal during this period.
He has a meeting with tribal elders over tea. As usual, they tell him they aren't aware of any Taliban and accuse him of killing innocent people.
At Restrepo, soldiers would have guard shifts behind the LRAS — the long range advance scout surveillance system — that gave them infrared imagery deep into the valley.
Operation: Rock Avalanche would take them somewhere they'd never been, so they had to plan for a big fight.
They applied camouflage paint before leaving to give them concealment, and for some — to make them look more badass.
Choppers dropped them off and they were on their feet for the next 3 days. They take fire early on from inside a village.
But the next day, they wake up and are told that the Taliban is talking about attacking them soon over their radios.
After Rock Avalanche and the loss of some of their brothers, morale was at a low point. But Kearney tells them to mourn, and then get back out there the next day.
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