A Day on Patrol in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan


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asianshepherd

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This is just one of the combat patrol I went on, and to be honest, each one is usually different from the other depending on the mission objectives.

Our patrol to the nearby village of Laui Kalay was pretty straightforward and it fell into the task of the 2nd Platoon, Baker Company, 2-12 Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, based out of Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. We left the base at 0430 when it was still dark. Everyone was using Night Vision Goggles except for me and I was trying hard not to stumble and fall on the very uneven rocky dirt road. We linked up with elements of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and their US Marines trainers at OP Dallas. The village wasn’t too far from Dallas and the ANA were to provide cover for us in case of contact with the enemy.

The platoon split into three squads: one went to Laui Kalay itself, one went up to an abandoned house as an over watch element (I was attached to them) and the other stayed with the ANA. Our squad took cover inside the house, set up fire position and had a sniper watch the next hill for any enemy activity.

So we sat around in the chilly morning air, scanned the surroundings, whispered and waited. I never found out what the squad that went into Laui Kalay did. After more than an hour we got the word to exfil. Suddenly there was a whoosh and an explosion to our east! Thank God it was friendly 155mm artillery! They called a fire mission to deter anyone out there and then pop a couple of smoke rounds in addition to their smoke grenades. We ran as fast as we can down the slope and discovered that it’s a pretty steep drop to the road! Soon we were engulfed with our own smoke and had to jump best as we can. The first guy pretty much did a face plant as he couldn’t see through all the smoke, was choking on it and was carrying an AT-4 rocket in addition to his M203 and the ammo. I grabbed and protected my camera best as I could, jumped and then ran like hell back to OP Dallas. Hell of an interesting ride! ;)
 

asianshepherd

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Private Martin preparing his AT-4 rocket in the dawn light.


The local interpreter, terps as they are known, sat with the squad outside the abandoned house


Private Martin again, standing with his M203


Part of the squad waiting inside the abandoned house


Sgt Dostal scanning the surrounding mountains with his sniper scope.
 

asianshepherd

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Waiting...


Calling in a 155mm


Our cover element waiting for us down by the road. Note the smoke used in the exfil


On our way out of the village


PFC Campos coming back to the base exhausted.
 

aprilmoon92

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impactful shots :eek: love your plays on focus :)
 

hummer

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This is really good stuff. How did you manage to get such shots?
 

LazerLordz

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Been a while since we had really quality photos here. These are quite emotive.

Stay safe, keep your head down. (I'm sure you heard of FOP Keating) :)
 

asianshepherd

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Been a while since we had really quality photos here. These are quite emotive.

Stay safe, keep your head down. (I'm sure you heard of FOP Keating) :)
Thanks! FOB Keating? Yeah, we heard about it before the anyone else as it was in my embedded unit's AO. I would to say that what happened was an anomaly rather than a constant possibility but it is true that the Coalition Forces are stretched a little too thinly for comfort and until troop level gets bumped up or a new strategy is found there is not much one can do.

Getting overrun is something I don't want to think about because there is no place safer than the base and if that happens keeping your head down is the least of your concern.

It's funny how when I was in the NS I thought carrying a SBO with 6 mags, 2 water bottles, rifle & steel helmet was heavy but some twenty years later doing this military stuff again and carrying camera, 3 litre camelbak, First Aid kit, multi-tool, torch, knee pads, snacks and body armour plus helmet kills me. It should have been the reverse! Soldiering is definitely a young man's game! :(
 

fibredrive

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beautiful photos! were you with any news agency or something, like AP?
 

LazerLordz

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Thanks! FOB Keating? Yeah, we heard about it before the anyone else as it was in my embedded unit's AO. I would to say that what happened was an anomaly rather than a constant possibility but it is true that the Coalition Forces are stretched a little too thinly for comfort and until troop level gets bumped up or a new strategy is found there is not much one can do.

Getting overrun is something I don't want to think about because there is no place safer than the base and if that happens keeping your head down is the least of your concern.

It's funny how when I was in the NS I thought carrying a SBO with 6 mags, 2 water bottles, rifle & steel helmet was heavy but some twenty years later doing this military stuff again and carrying camera, 3 litre camelbak, First Aid kit, multi-tool, torch, knee pads, snacks and body armour plus helmet kills me. It should have been the reverse! Soldiering is definitely a young man's game! :(
Haha, I mentioned "keep your head down" as a figure of speech..

Yup, pretty true about the anomaly bit at the moment. However, if the Talibs are emboldened..one never knows.

Did you interact much with the ANA and ANP when photographing the area? I see some good images of the local military, which is something of a rarity in regular ISAF combat camera output, as opposed to their liberal amounts of images featuring the local civilians..
 

asianshepherd

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Haha, I mentioned "keep your head down" as a figure of speech..

Yup, pretty true about the anomaly bit at the moment. However, if the Talibs are emboldened..one never knows.

Did you interact much with the ANA and ANP when photographing the area? I see some good images of the local military, which is something of a rarity in regular ISAF combat camera output, as opposed to their liberal amounts of images featuring the local civilians..
Well, sort of. The ANA usually have their own compounds outside the main base although there has been a couple that were in the base itself. They don't speak much English at all so an interpreter is usually needed if you want to interact with them. However, it is not unheard of to tag along on an ANA patrol and take photos.

With the ANP, much less interaction. Sometimes they will accompany a patrol or come up to the base and have training sessions with the US MPs. The ANP has rather bad records when it comes to reliability and trust. There has been incidents where some members from the ANP has turned on the US soldiers wounding or killing them. There has been incidents of Taliban infiltrations of the ANP and only occasionally with the ANA.

At the moment there isn't a system where one can apply to embed with the ANA or ANP unlike with ISAF. Besides the risk is higher when you go on patrol with them.
 

LazerLordz

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Well, sort of. The ANA usually have their own compounds outside the main base although there has been a couple that were in the base itself. They don't speak much English at all so an interpreter is usually needed if you want to interact with them. However, it is not unheard of to tag along on an ANA patrol and take photos.

With the ANP, much less interaction. Sometimes they will accompany a patrol or come up to the base and have training sessions with the US MPs. The ANP has rather bad records when it comes to reliability and trust. There has been incidents where some members from the ANP has turned on the US soldiers wounding or killing them. There has been incidents of Taliban infiltrations of the ANP and only occasionally with the ANA.

At the moment there isn't a system where one can apply to embed with the ANA or ANP unlike with ISAF. Besides the risk is higher when you go on patrol with them.
Yeap, I get you.

The lack of media embed opportunity is quite expected, especially safety and trust-wise. Yeah.. the recent fragging incident is very bad for troop morale, especially American ones.. and it probably rolled back a lot of trust, goodwill and effort in joint deployment missions..

Anyway, we'll all be looking forward to more images from you. :)
 

Wurdelak

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nice shots! stay safe... may the force be with you! i salute your courage! just being in that place makes me nervy!:thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

gazkw

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Jan 12, 2009
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great work and really appreciate you sharing... i suppose its the last thing on your mind, but do you mind sharing your gear? just curious at what a combat photojournalist carries as his main 'arsenal'.

thanks!
 

Exposure

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Apr 6, 2008
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this is good :thumbsup:
 

cyrzk

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very interesting and extraordinary!love all your shots man!
 

giantemu

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keep safe man....looking forward to more photos from you:thumbsup:
 

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