By lex, on May 20th, 2010
In Afghanistan, the antithesis to a summer of love:
A few dozen Marines were on the patrol. As they moved south they fanned out in small groups. Their formations obscured their numbers and gave them flexibility, making it possible for the platoon to move quickly from multiple angles against any gunmen who attacked any of the fire teams.
Staff Sgt. Matthew P. Dalrymple, 30, the platoon’s senior enlisted Marine, walked with Third Squad. He predicted the course of the day. The walk south through the farmland would be quiet, he said, because the Taliban usually did not fight early in the morning. Fighting would begin as the sun climbed. “Like clockwork,” he said. “Between 8:30 and 9:30.”
Two hours later, after the Marines walked through fields and talked with farmers harvesting wheat or tending new plantings of cucumbers and melons, the first bursts of small-arms fire cracked by. The Marines looked through optical sights, seeking targets.
A fire team and snipers walking along the road had been ambushed from the east. The sounds of exploding grenades and M-4s and M-16s returning fire mixed with the incoming Kalashnikov fire. Staff Sergeant Dalrymple looked at his watch: 7:33 a.m. “They’re an hour early,” he said.
It’s going to be a long, hot summer.