Taliban Hunting Club

A war photo a day #40

Taliban Hunting Club Taliban Hunting Club

Uncategorized October 21, 2013 0

David Axe photo Taliban Hunting Club A war photo a day #40 by DAVID AXE Eight years. Eight wars. More death and destruction than... Taliban Hunting Club
David Axe photo

Taliban Hunting Club

A war photo a day #40

by DAVID AXE

Eight years. Eight wars. More death and destruction than I care to recount. I’ve been covering armed conflict since 2005. Every battlefield has its stories … and its unforgettable images. Follow me through my career at war, one jarring, haunting or sublime photo a day until I run out.

In early 2012 I was back in Afghanistan, aiming to cover an aspect of the war rarely covered by most media. More than most wars, the Afghan conflict is seasonal. When the temperature drops and snow and ice blanket the eastern mountains, the Taliban hunkers down, resupplies, trains, plans.

And so do the Americans. In the winter of 2012, U.S. Army troops from the 172nd Infantry Brigade took advantage of the seasonal lull to build a new base astride a Taliban supply route in Marzak, in the mountains of Paktika province. Nawab Khan, an Afghan army commando, deployed from the city of Orgone to help the Americans train local cops.

In 2006, Khan was the sole survivor of a suicide bombing that killed 25 people, including his friend and commander. In Paktika, Khan wore a patch on his left arm that read, “In Memory Shaheed Sardad KIA 26 Nov 2006 Orgone.” On his right arm, another patch: “Taliban Hunting Club.”

Khan’s hands bear the scars of a lifetime at war. Some fingertips are missing — shot off. A thumb curls at a weird angle, the result of another bullet passing through his palm. To show the police trainees the proper way to hold and fire their weapons, Khan knelt with his AK-47 and shot five rounds into a bottle of red Kool-Aid 25 yards away. The exploding Kool-Aid looked like blood on the white snow.