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Herald Trib 20 Apr

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  • Joshua
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    ocala.com

    ALIABAD, Afghanistan — The two Army lieutenants crouched against boulders beside the Korangal River. Taliban gunfire poured down from villages and cliffs above, hitting tree branches and rocks and snapping as the bullets passed over the officers’ helmets.


    UNDER ATTACK Specialist Robert Soto ran for cover last week as his platoon was ambushed in Afghanistan. Across the river, two comrades crouched behind a rock.
    Tyler Hicks/The New York Times


    An American platoon was pinned in the riverbed, which had blossomed into a kill zone. One squad and the radio operator were trapped in a wheat field on the far side. An improvised bomb had just exploded in their midst. The blast wave had blown the soldiers down, and, though the platoon did not yet know it, killed a soldier on the trail.
    The platoon leader, company executive officer and another squad crouched exposed at a stream junction, trying to arrange help as the bomb’s smoke drifted through the misty rain. A third squad was on the slope behind them, returning fire.
    Two footbridges separated the three American groups. No one could run across them during fire like this.
    Another pitched firefight in a ravine in eastern Afghanistan had begun, shaped by factors that have made the war against the Taliban seem unending: grueling terrain that favors ambushes and prevents American soldiers from massing; villages in thorough collaboration with insurgents; and experienced adversaries each fighting in concert with its abilities and advantages.
    The Taliban fighters had struck with surprise, stealth and familiarity with the ground, executing the sort of ambush that Afghan guerrillas have mastered for generations.
    The Americans, seasoned by years of war here and in Iraq, would seek to create an intricately violent response, designed to undo the odds, save the pinned soldiers and kill the insurgents who, for a moment, had shown themselves.
    Second Lt. Justin R. Smith, the platoon leader, called for help from an artillery battery, then radioed Sgt. Craig W. Tanner, the squad leader on the opposite side. Each man had found what cover he could. The platoon would fight where it was.
    “Lead element: stand by where you’re at,” the lieutenant said. “If you come back across the river you’re going to expose yourself.” He glanced across the water at his radio operator, Specialist Robert Soto. “Soto!” he shouted. “Stay there! Stay! There!”
    There are moments in many firefights that verge on chaos. This was one of them. Specialist Soto’s ears were ringing. He could not hear. “We gotta move!” he shouted.

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  • trellheim
    started a topic Herald Trib 20 Apr

    Herald Trib 20 Apr



    UNDER ATTACK Specialist Robert Soto ran for cover last week as his platoon was ambushed in Afghanistan. Across the river, two comrades crouched behind a rock.


    Looks a bit Irish as a location doesn't it ?
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