View Full Version : Sebastian Junger in Afganistan

Greg P H
02-15-2008, 08:23 PM
I came across this while googling
Good Read on a hidden war

Into the Valley of Death

A strategic passage wanted by the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley is among the deadliest pieces of terrain in the world for U.S. forces. One platoon is considered the tip of the American spear. Its men spend their days in a surreal combination of backbreaking labor—building outposts on rocky ridges—and deadly firefights, while they try to avoid the mistakes the Russians made. Sebastian Junger and photographer Tim Hetherington join the platoon’s painfully slow advance, as its soldiers laugh, swear, and run for cover, never knowing which of them won’t make it home.

by Sebastian Junger January 2008

The 20 men of Second Platoon move through the village single file, keeping behind trees and stone houses and going down on one knee from time to time to cover the next man down the line. The locals know what is about to happen and are staying out of sight. We are in the village of Aliabad, in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, and the platoon radioman has received word that Taliban gunners are watching us and are about to open fire. Signals intelligence back at the company headquarters has been listening in on the Taliban field radios. They say the Taliban are waiting for us to leave the village before they shoot.
Below us is the Korengal River and across the valley is the dark face of the Abas Ghar ridge. The Taliban essentially own the Abas Ghar. The valley is six miles long, and the Americans have pushed halfway down its length. In 2005, Taliban fighters cornered a four-man navy-seal team that had been dropped onto the Abas Ghar, and killed three of them, then shot down the Chinook helicopter that was sent in to save them. All 16 commandos on board died.
Dusk is falling and the air has a kind of buzzing tension to it, as if it carries an electrical charge. We only have to cover 500 yards to get back to the safety of the firebase, but the route is wide open to Taliban positions across the valley, and the ground has to be crossed at a run. The soldiers have taken so much fire here that they named this stretch “the Aliabad 500.” Platoon leader Matt Piosa, a blond, soft-spoken 24-year-old lieutenant from Pennsylvania, makes it to a chest-high stone wall behind the village grade school, and the rest of the squad arrives behind him, laboring under the weight of their weapons and body armor. The summer air is thick and hot, and everyone is sweating like horses. Piosa and his men were here to talk to the local elder about a planned water-pipe project for the village, and I can’t help thinking that this is an awful lot of effort for a five-minute conversation.

Continues ........


02-16-2008, 12:30 AM
vanity fair has some good articles sometimes.

Joe (SoCal)
02-16-2008, 07:03 AM
Sebastian Junger used to write for "Mens Journal" when it used to be a serious magazine, and was in a larger format. I always thought he was a cool writer. I read "The Perfect Storm" before the movie came out, I even visited The Crows Nest in Gloucester and saw the real deal before it became a tourist trap.

About 8 years ago he opened a bar called The Half King around the corner from where I used to work on 23rd st. http://www.thehalfking.com/ One day when construction was still going on in what would become the bar I saw a leathery good looking guy hauling a large bucket of plaster scraps to the dumpster on the curb. I asked the guy, what were they doing to the place. He looked at me and said they were making a bar and that it will be open tonight and he was one of the new owners he reached out his hand and said Hi I'm Sebastian. I immediately replied Junger, your sebastian Junger ? Cause it all of a sudden clicked his face I had seen on dust covers and in "Mens Journal" So I peaked into the bar and said Sebatian there is NO WAY your opening tonight. The place was a mess wall board still going up, painting not done, LOTS OF WORK LEFT. He looked at me and said you show up at 8:00 PM and I'll buy you a beer. So I go to the nearest hardware store and buy a couple of dust masks and invite a buddy. We show up with the dust masks on and Sebastian is at the door we hand him one and he laughs, calls out to the bartender and says get these guys a couple of beers on me. And sure enough the place was done and as the evening progressed it became quite the scene.

Later on during the day the bar was just a bar and less of a scene, Sebastian could be seen popping in from time to time, we spoke casually if I was there. His idea for the bar was for it to become a place for writers and war correspondents and photographers who made their livings all over the world covering world event but got their publishers and paychecks in NYC to use the Half King as a sort of way point to meet up and hang out. Maybe it got that way later on I'll never know cause I moved from that location and when I left it was still way to hip to ever be the crusty writers bar he had hoped for. It was still filled with way to many models and euro trash at night. But Sebastian was and is the read deal.

02-16-2008, 08:47 AM
Good story Joe, the valley in Afghanistan is the one written about in Lone Survivor. I don't see the end state for that place.