On The Way Back To Base: 'We're Gonna Get Shot At'

Play associated audio

U.S. and Afghan forces are fighting to gain control of a major crossroads in a part of Afghanistan that has seen so few NATO troops that one village elder mistook the Americans for Russians — from the long-ago Soviet war.

"It's an absolutely crucial area," says NPR photographer David Gilkey, who has been embedded with U.S. troops involved in the offensive in eastern Afghanistan's Ghazni province.

"It's gorgeous," Gilkey tells Morning Edition co-host Renee Montagne. "It's a valley, and it sort of reminds me of the high desert area in Arizona. That said, it's also quite dangerous. It's where Highway 1 runs from Kabul to Kandahar. It is the key road that runs north to south."

Gilkey spent some 10 days with the 82nd Airborne, as soldiers mounted patrols from a forward operating base called Giro.

"This is the first time that anybody has been out in the little hamlets and villages in years," Gilkey says. "And pretty much every time we went on a patrol, we were getting shot at."

In fact, he was with a patrol when it was engaged in a firefight, with bullets whizzing past — their sounds were caught on Gilkey's recording equipment.

"On the way back, the guys were talking: 'We're gonna get shot at,' " he says. "And sure enough, within about 10 minutes, the shooting started."

The American group did not sustain any casualties on that patrol, Gilkey says. During the conflict, the U.S. soldiers and trainers urged their Afghan counterparts to be patient in the face of the gunfire. They're also trying to instill more planning in the Afghans' operations, Gilkey says.

"And that's where it gets a little tricky," he adds. "It's easy to go out there and get shot at. It's another thing to bring everybody back safely — and have accomplished the mission."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Berlin Wall Brought To University Of Virginia With 'Kings Of Freedom'

A massive piece of the Berlin Wall was recently delivered to the campus of the University of Virginia, adorned with a famous mural by German graffiti artist Dennis Kaun.


Tasting With Our Eyes: Why Bright Blue Chicken Looks So Strange

The color of food can affect how we perceive its taste, and food companies aren't afraid to use that to their advantage. An artist tests perceptions by dousing familiar foods with unorthodox colors.

Is Obamacare A Success? We Might Not Know For A While

Fans and foes want to know whether the Affordable Care Act is meeting its goals. But, for good reasons, there are no clear answers yet.
WAMU 88.5

Capital Bikeshare Supplier Bought, Reopening Door To Expansion

Bixi, the company that supplies bicycles and bike stations to the Capital Bikeshare program, has been rescued from bankruptcy. But does that mean the bike sharing will resume expansion in our area?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.