J. Malcolm Garcia on Securing District Four


Garcia reports on his travels with the military in Afghanistan @ Superstition Review.

We prepare to go out on a night patrol.

The captain however must pick up an Afghan policeman first. On paper, the American and European soldiers of the international security forces provide a “supportive role” only to the central Afghan government. Therefore, protocols require an Afghan police officer to lead patrols, the captain explains to me, an embedded reporter. He calls me by my last name as he does his soldiers, and tells me to ride with him.

We leave Camp Julien in south Kabul for the District Four police station in a convoy of four Humvees, six soldiers in each vehicle. The dawn light rinses the sky with an umbrella of pink light, and then the light fades almost instantly and the sky darkens to an impenetrable depth without stars. Kids wave to us from the shadows as they always do when we go out on a night patrol, but it seems to me they also have one hand behind their back, and sometimes I’m right because I’ll hear the rocks they throw ding against our doors.

“Last week on our way out, this kid was throwing rocks at me,” a soldier tells me. “In Iraq, parents’d beat the shit out of their kids for doing that. This kid didn’t look slow. It’s not like he’s a retard.  If that’s how a kid thinks about us what about his dad?”

“It’s a game dude,” another soldier says. “How many rocks do they have to throw to make a gunner duck.”

“They need to start a baseball league here then. He was whizzing them.”

The dirt road we follow climbs a hill. A stone castle swarmed by birds circling its broken towers overlooks our progress.

Image: Lalage Snow

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