Remote Afghan Base Faces Nonstop Battle


As a woman on the frontlines, Devoy said, "I love being able to say I can go out there and fight for my country with every man in the army."

But the cost has been high.

Gatison is on his third deployment. He's been twice to Iraq, but this is his first deployment in Afghanistan. Already, he's lost "a couple of sergeants, some soldiers" he said. "One of them was a good friend."

"I tend to think a lot more when I'm by myself," he told us. "I don't think I'm ever going to get over it. Some people can actually turn it on and off but myself, it kind of keeps me in perspective. Keeps me strong."

But Gatison can't mention his friend's name -- it brings back too much pain.

"It hurts bad. The last thing that was actually said between him and I before coming here was 'See you when we get back to the rear.'"

Barbara Vieyra, a 22-year-old mother to a baby girl, is one of 11 soldiers from this battalion who have been killed in the last few months. Devoy said Vieyra was a great soldier who is dearly missed.

There will no doubt be many more who lose their lives in this fight, with the United States already committing to having troops in Afghanistan for at least four more years, until 2014.

Campbell carries with him cards with the names every soldier he's lost in Afghanistan -- so far 141. Six last week were killed when an Afghan police officer turned his weapon on the U.S. soldiers training him.

"We can't let this event have the enemy use that to their advantage and turn us and cause mistrust between us and the ANSF," Campbell said. "It's been a big toll, but I would tell you they have not died in vain."

Yet there was not one soldier at Camp Joyce who did not think the war was winnable.

"I do think it's winnable," Gatison told us. "I have noticed changes since I've been here, in the short time, it's definitely looking good."

"In the six months that I've been here, I've seen great progress every single day," Campbell said.

"What has changed is we continue to grow the [Afghan National Security Forces]. We've had six months now to continue to develop them. We brought in an extra brigade ... . That's increased the density of our soldiers working with the coalition, both the [Afghan National Army] and the police," he said.

According to a new ABC News/BBC/ARD/Washington Post poll released Dec. 6 by Langer Research Associates, an overwhelming majority of Afghans polled -- about 84 percent -- saw progress by Western forces in training Afghan forces to take over security.

"Remember, if you compare it to Iraq -- where there were periods of times when we said, man, this thing is not winnable, and months later it completely turned -- I think there's potential for that here," Campbell told us. "The definition of winning might be different from what people back in the States' are. What people really want is a place to go work, they want their kids to go to school, they want to live in freedom, they don't want to be terrorized, many areas we have that already."

While there are signs of progress, as Campbell mentioned, it is just tying all the pieces of progress together that is the challenge.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...