Battle in "the Evilest Place"
The American soldiers at the Shkin firebase in Afghanistan live precariously on the front line, a target for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters who launch frequent strikes from camps in nearby Pakistan. This border area is an unforgiving landscape of rocky hills and scrub pines where the enemy can nestle into position at close range while remaining invisible. When the soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division venture out in humvee patrols along dusty tracks they have dubbed Chevy, Pontiac and Camaro, they know how easily a hunter can become prey. As U.S. Army Colonel Rodney Davis puts it, “Shkin is the evilest place in Afghanistan.” The fighting in Afghanistan may have slipped below the radar of most Americans back home, but for the soldiers on the ground things appear to be getting worse. Attacks on the Americans and their Afghan allies are increasing. The enemy is becoming better organized and better armed. Despite the presence of 8,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the influence of al-Qaeda and the Taliban is spreading. A new U.N. security report reckons that one-third of the country is too dangerous for aid distribution. Full Story