The Afghan Plan: Where Dakota rides a chariot one step from being on fire in Herat

Street in Herat, AfghanistanImage via WikipediaDakota over in Afghanistan has added somebody new to his cast of characters — RoguePeaceCorps — a development specialist in Herat, directly embedded with the military. He has also written about a dreadful ride through an Italian checkpoint in the city. Quick excerpt below:

Escalation of force: Step One — warning. Hand and arm signals.

Step two: enhanced warning. Dazzlers.

The Italians were at step two, using dazzlers, and that put us only one step away from step three:

Step Three: Lethal Force. Shoot to disable, shoot to kill.

There’s a feeling of helplessness in all of this that’s hard to communicate. You’re staring at a gun turret being manned by a military force that’s considered quick on the trigger, and they appear to have escalated their warnings up to just shy of using lethal force; the driver isn’t sure what to do, the sun is setting and everyone’s on edge, and meanwhile you’re stuck in the back seat while someone else has their foot on the gas pedal. You can’t poke your head out the window and ask what you’re supposed to do, because the windows don’t go down on armored cars and even if they did, putting your head out of the armor and into the line of fire feels like it would be suicidal. You’re pretty sure that you’d have ground the car to a halt by this point, but it’s still inching forward and you don’t have your foot on the gas pedal.

They hit us with the dazzlers again, and RoguePeaceCorps hit the brakes definitively. My heart was pounding. The Italians seemed to be waving us off the road onto the dirt path the local car had tried to take earlier. “I think they want you to go around,” someone said. “Through fucking IED land over there? No fucking WAY, man!” RoguePeaceCorps responded. The local car that had tried to veer off earlier cut through the brush. We stared at the Italians, and they continued waving their hands and signaling with the dazzlers that we should be moving. Not moving seemed as bad as moving. My heart was still pounding.

Continue reading Chariots of Fire