19 January 2011

A Rescue, Under Fire

C.J. Chivers provides an aerial analysis of the medevac helicopter rescue of Cpl. Zachary K. Kruger in Marja, Afghanistan last year.

From his accompanying post at the At War blog:

The first clip will be one of several showing the Afghan countryside from the back of Black Hawk helicopters crisscrossing the region on medevac runs. Today’s post covers the pickup last year of a Marine who had been shot in Marja. This particular clip was selected to provide a fuller view of what NATO and Afghan troops patrolling in Afghanistan often face, and the speed with which events happen and decisions are made.

It opens with a high-speed, low-elevation view of the so-called green zone in Helmand Province — the irrigated areas of the steppe where most of the people in the province, and the fighting, are found. This is Afghanistan’s poppy belt, and thus it is the agricultural source of much of the country’s opium, although this footage was shot a few weeks after the 2010 poppy harvest. That’s the reason many fields have been freshly tilled. The plantings for summer crops had begun.

Look at the video, which will show a small Marine unit under fire as it tries to treat and evacuate a wounded corporal. Look at the ground around them, and the way that potential combatants can be hard to distinguish from civilians.

From the air, some of the character of counterinsurgency warfare in general, and of the Afghan war in particular, can be visible in stark ways, as it is here.

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