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Capt Kearney - HOME PAGE MY TIMES TODAY'S PAPER VIDEO MOST...

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SIGN IN TO E-MAIL OR SAVE THIS PRINT SHARE Battle Company Is Out There Lynsey Addario for The New York Times Eyes in the Sky: At Camp Blessing, battalion members — led by Lt. Col. Bill Ostlund, far right — watch a monitor showing Capt. Dan Kearney’s troops six miles away. More Photos > By ELIZABETH RUBIN Published: February 24, 2008 WE TUMBLED OUT of two Black Hawks onto a shrub-dusted mountainside. It was a windy, cold October evening. A half-moon illuminated the tall pines and peaks. Through night-vision goggles the soldiers and landscape glowed in a blurry green-and-white static. Just across the valley, lights flickered from a few homes nestled in the terraced farmlands of Yaka China, a notorious village in the Korengal River valley in Afghanistan ’s northeastern province of Kunar. Yaka China was just a few villages south and around a bend in the river from the Americans’ Next Artic MOST POP THE TIMES MAGAZINE T: STYLE KEY PLAY Magazine WORLD U.S. N.Y. / REGION BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY SCIENCE HEALTH SPORTS OPINION ARTS ST E-MAILED HOME PAGE MY TIMES TODAY'S PAPER VIDEO MOST POPULAR TIMES TOPICS Sign up for Friday. See Sample Movies Update
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Multimedia Subduing the Korengal Valley Related Times Topics: Afghanistan Enlarge This Image Lynsey Addario for The New York Times Company Man Capt. Dan Kearney (left foreground) with members of his unit at the Korengal Outpost command center in northeastern Afghanistan. More Photos » Enlarge This Image Lynsey Addario for The New York Times In the Valley: Capt. Dan Kearney. More Photos > small mountain outposts, but the area’s reputation among the soldiers was mythic. It was a known safe haven for insurgents. American troops have tended to avoid the place since a nasty fight a year or so earlier. And as Halloween approached, the soldiers I was with, under the command of 26-year-old Capt. Dan Kearney, were predicting their own Yaka China doom. The Korengal Valley is a lonely outpost of regress: most of the valley’s people practice Wahhabism, a more rigid variety of Islam than that followed by most Afghans, and about half of the fighters confronting the U.S. there are homegrown. The rest are Arabs, Pakistanis, Chechens, Uzbeks; the area is close to Pakistan’s frontier regions where Osama bin Laden , Ayman al-Zawahiri and other Al Qaeda figures are often said to be hiding out. The Korengal fighters are fierce, know the terrain and watch the Americans’ every move. On their hand-held radios, the old jihadis call the Americans “monkeys,” “infidels,” ‘’bastards” and “the kids.” It’s psychological warfare; they know the Americans monitor their radio chatter. As far as “the kids” are concerned, the insurgents are ghosts — so the soldiers’ tactics often come down to using themselves as bait. The insurgents specialize in ambushes, harassing fire and hit-and-run attacks. NATO ’s military advantage in such a war is air power. The soldiers don’t hesitate to call in Big Daddy (who, in today’s military, often flies in with the voice of a female pilot). But while these
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