Sometime after midnight, from an observation post at a small base in Paktya Province, American soldiers watched the battle begin. Tracer rounds streamed into the January sky, followed by the fire trails of rocket-propelled grenades. It was days before the new moon, and no light fell in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan but what leaked down from the stars. Holed up in the valley below, the Afghan police fired wildly, desperately, as though trying to fight back the darkness itself.
The Americans radioed the police. The police didn't answer. An artillery crew fired illumination rounds, flares attached to parachutes, trying to locate enemy positions. None was revealed. Finally, the Americans sent a convoy of soldiers speeding into the valley to support or save their allies or at least secure the dead. When the soldiers arrived, the policemen were hanging out.
"What's up, dudes?" the police said.
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