Press-Republican

Local News

October 30, 2007

Moving forward with the 173rd Airborne

GIs seeing warfare that invokes Vietnam

FIRE BASE ABLE MAIN, Afghanistan -- Troops of the 173rd Airborne Brigade continue their implementation of Operation Rock Avalanche in their fight with insurgents near the Pakistan border here in southeast Afghanistan.

Located just below the Hindu Kush Mountains north of here, U.S. forces are nearly in place to strike insurgent positions from the high peaks above 173rd positions in this area.

"If I see fire coming into this convoy, I'd better be seeing immediate fire going out," Sgt. First Class Michael Loetz said as he gave the morning briefing to his soldiers who were manning the convoy to Able Main.

"And I don't once want to see a head above the gun turret on these Humvees. That's as wrong as two boys (having sex) in a room full of girls."

The new, "politically correct" Army seems to be rapidly fading, the farther one travels up the Pech River Valley. More and more, shades of Vietnam and "Apocalypse Now" are breaking through the surface.

The soldiers are living a rougher existence in this war against the Taliban-inspired opposition than those fighting in Iraq. In fact, most here in these units have already served at least one deployment in that beleaguered country.

"Watch those cornfields especially," continued Loetz. "Half of them still haven't been harvested, and we've been hit hard before driving along those fields.

You know they've got weapons hidden low in the greenery and can pop up in seconds, send hard fire into this convoy, then disappear without a trace. So keep your (expletive) eyes open."

As the convoy approaches Able Main, a sigh of relief is breathed by all aboard.

It's been an uneventful journey.

This Fire Base is a stripped-down, no-frills operation -- tubes for urinals, cut-off oil drums under the outhouse four holers, a mess trailer for meals and sandbagged bunkers for housing.

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