On the ground, far from the generals in Kabul and the policy makers in Washington, the hour-by-hour conduct of the war rests in part in the deeds of men this young, who have been given latitude to lead as their training and instincts guide them.
One of the Marines profiled, though, takes a not-so-subtle jab at my former service:
In all, Corporal Conroy said, in five months here, he and Lance Corporal Murray have been attacked more than 70 times. He said he respected the insurgents’ courage, but was grateful that most of them lacked an essential skill.
“They are experienced and understand the principles of the ambush,” he said. “But they are not very good shots. If these guys knew how to shoot like even the U.S. Army, we would be taking 50 percent casualties on all of our patrols.”
What a little twerp! Chivers no doubt included this line because he, too, is a Marine. I know a certain U.S. Army regiment at Fort Benning that would relish wiping that cocky smirk off Corporal Conroy's face. But fair is fair. These Marines are national treasures as far as I am concerned, and as an Army buddy of mine wrote when he sent along this article...
This is the modern equivalent of the Vietnam advisory mission, only done by Lance Corporals and Corporals, not Captains and Majors. It almost makes this Army Captain want to say "Ooo-rah," not "Huah." Almost. ;-)
P.S. A reader reminded me to mention the great photographs which accompany the article.