As bullets from a Taliban machine gun ricocheted through the street below, an Afghan soldier wearing an “I Heart Kabul” T-shirt took a brief rest. “There has been fighting day and night.”
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan — The war is just on the other side of this wall, a partly destroyed cinder block barricade in southern Afghanistan.
A week ago, a family lived in a house on the property. They have since fled and their home has been converted into a fighting position held by a half-dozen soldiers, along with their spent shell casings and empty energy drink cans.
The roof terrace is pockmarked from a rocket-propelled grenade explosion and there are holes bore out of the mud brick for machine guns and rifles to fire through.
American withdrawal got underway, the Taliban began their latest offensive on the provincial capital on May 1, a date that tied neatly with the poor weather and blowing dust that prevented air support from stopping them. The insurgents struck elsewhere in the country at roughly the same time, taking several Afghan Army bases in the north.
Capt. Shir Agha Safi, an intelligence officer who moves around Helmand Province, had not come to terms with the planned U.S. departure. Because the Americans, their foreign sounding names and aircraft and drones are still ingrained into almost every part of the war.