What a Soldier in Afghanistan Needs: Chow, Bullets, Mail

What a Grunt in Afghanistan Needs: Chow, Bullets, Mail

On this lonely little outpost, where the soldiers urinate into tubes stuck into the ground and there is only enough water to shower every couple of days, men call themselves "grunts" with pride.

The men -- and they are all men, all 40 or so of them– of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, will live on this base for nine months, following three months of training.

There are no women, save an occasional visitor. There are pictures of half naked girls on the walls. There is a homemade basketball court, there are video games, there are guitars, there is poker (though they've tired of that of late), and there is lots of cracking up over YouTube clips on computers in the dining hall.

This story is part of an ABCNews.com series THE FIGHT FOR AFGHANISTAN, WHERE WE STAND. The complete series so far can be found on this site's NEWS page.

But mostly there is talk of war, of "destroying" the enemy. These men are trained to kill, and while the battle is much more complex than that, in most of their minds, killing is the mission.

"I love stinking. I love climbing mountains. It's sad that I can say it, but I love getting shot at. It's better than any drug, any alcohol, any fast car, anything. It's the adrenalin rush from heaven," says 30-year-old Specialst John Tuerck, looking up toward the sky which, at this particular moment, is blocked by the sandbag-covered roof just a few feet above his bed.

Click here for a map of Zabul province

"Some people say it's kind of like a God-lite persona. But for me, it's just -- and I can probably say for a lot of guys -- it's just something we're good at. You know, seek and destroy the enemy. That's what we were trained to do. That's what we came here to do. It's what we love to do. Can't beat it."

On and off the base, life is a mix of adrenalin and patience. And while the soldiers are inspired by the former, they need heavy doses of the latter. Platoons will usually conduct patrols three or four times a week, and so soldiers spend entire days inside the wire, trying to keep busy.

Home Away from Home

In Tuerck's room, 19-year-old Private Josh Rouse gives a tour of what the men who live here call "the submarine." From front to back the room is only 20 feet long and sleeps five men. The walkway from the front door to the back of the room, flanked on either side by bunks, is no more than a foot or two wide.

A series of shelves in the middle of the room is the closest thing they have to a communal storage facility: ammunition on the bottom, remote control cars and planes on top, hygiene products in the middle.

"But it's about to get knocked out because we're getting an X-Box," Rouse says with a smile. Video games over hygiene? "An X-Box is well needed."

Until the X-Box arrives, these men spend their nights playing what they spend their days doing for real: a war game called Battlefield.

"When we're not working on trucks, when we have down time, that's what we do," Rouse says. "Or we'll sit here and make fun of each other."

They call Rouse "the kid" because of his age. Another member of the bunk is compared to an "out of shape action figure" because, well, he looks like an out of shape action figure. Another is simply "giggles."

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