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On Patrol

09/08/10 7:55AM By Larry Doane
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First Sergeant Sam Morris, Captain Larry Doane, and Staff Sergeant Brian Wayland outside an Afghan National Police outpost in Khwaja Omari, Afghanistan

 

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Report From Afghanistan


(Host)  This month, VPR presents "Report From Afghanistan," a series from the war zone where 1,500 members of the Vermont National Guard are currently deployed.

One of those Guard units is commanded by Captain Larry Doane, a VPR commentator. He's been keeping an audio journal of the deployment from a soldier's perspective.

Today, he talks about the daily patrols that he sends his soldiers on.

(Doane) It's 1 p.m., or 1300 in my current language, and all my guys are on patrol.  We've got a pretty large area to cover, about the size of Rhode Island, and like usual, we're going in eight different directions at once. 

Some of the platoons are on routine patrols or at least routine as things get in Afghanistan.  Others are investigating reports of one ambush or another.  Some search for IEDs or weapons caches waiting in the streets and fields surrounding Ghazni city. 

I'm at my desk.  I juggle three computers while half my mind listens to the radio traffic, sorting the mundane from the potentially dangerous.  The screens in front of me stream information of all sorts, from classified intelligence to logistics requests to Facebook status updates. 

It's a different sort of war out here, and even on the frontier there is no escaping the homefront's need for news, for reassurance.  The flies buzz my desk despite our best efforts to trap and screen them away.  I take the occasional break from typing or listening to swat them away.  The traffic on the radio increases as one platoon starts to clear a known ambush site. 

There's not much I can do from here on the base but I rise anyway and move to the map.  I stare at pushpins stuck into the wall and the red stickers surrounding them.  The pushpins are us, my team on patrol.  The red stickers are intelligence reports noting possible enemy locations.  It's a dance on the wall between our pins and their stickers.  Some days we're on our game and the stickers flee from the pins.  Other days are harder and the line between chased and chaser blurs.  Today, though, our dance continues and I wait, listening to the radio and waiting to see whose turn it is to lead. 

(Host) VPR commentator and Vermont National Guard Captain Larry Doane. In tomorrow's journal entry, he'll describe attending a party to celebrate an Afghan marriage.

VPR's Steve Zind is headed to Afghanistan to report on the Vermont Guard.

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