April 17, 2009

Good News Friday

Two great "good news" stories, both of which nonetheless raise potentially disturbing questions.

The first is this account of an infantry ambush in the Korengal Valley.

In a matter of minutes, the ambush changed the experience of the surviving soldiers’ tours. The degree of turnabout surprised even some the soldiers who participated.

“It’s the first time most of us have even seen the guys who were shooting at us,” said Sgt. Thomas Horvath, 21.

The next day, elders from the valley would ask permission to collect the villages’ dead. Company B’s commander, Capt. James C. Howell, would grant it.

But already, as the soldiers slid and climbed down the mountain, word of the insurgents’ defeat was traveling through Taliban networks.

Specialist Robert C. Oxman, 21, had put a dead fighter’s phone in his pocket. As the platoon descended, the phone rang and rang, apparently as other fighters called to find out what had happened on Sautalu Sar. By sunrise, it had been ringing for hours.

But what are we doing in the Korengal Valley? Does anyone know? Are we just trying to control the terrain or what?

The second article is on a tour of Iraq by Medal of Honor recipients. And this is just cool. Not cool, though, are the freaking reflective belts they are making soldiers in Iraq wear these days. W. T. F. I heard you now have to walk around Bagram wearing a road guard vest too. Can anyone confirm?

Update: Tom can.