America’s Battalion in Afghanistan

America’s Battalion in Afghanistan

Loaded down with 100 pounds of gear in 126-degree heat, U.S. Marines fight their way through Helmand Province. (NPR)

Ahead of the 2009 elections in Afghanistan, U.S. troops trekked miles each day to secure parts of southern Helmand Province. Loaded down with 100 pounds of gear in 126-degree heat, Marines with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment
not only braved enemy fire, but also faced dehydration, sleep deprivation and monotony as they waited for a clear shot of an enemy they rarely see.

This National Public Radio audio slideshow emphasizes the sounds of warfare — heavy breathing, shouting, bursts of gunfire, explosions and whirring helicopter blades — that put the listener in the heat of battle. Embedded photojournalist David Gilkey captured moving black–and-white portraits of soldiers in action, frustrated by their inability to return fire when the enemy can’t be identified, as well as waiting grimly for the next assault and contemplating their fate. It gets personal, one says, as he wonders what the enemy is thinking.

As in other videos on this topic, the troops voice their belief that since they represent a long line of American soldiers who have served in foreign countries, their pride is at stake. They say they are motivated, in part, by the stories they’ll have for their grandchildren about how they changed the world for the better.

This audio slideshow won second place in the 67th annual Picture of the Year International awards, in the category of News Story – Multimedia.

Channel: National Public Radio

Length: 3:44

By David Gilkey, Laura Krantz, Jim Wildman, Carlos Boettcher

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