A Young Marine?s Dream Job
By C. J. CHIVERS
New York Times
April 30, 2009
FIREBASE VIMOTO, Afghanistan
Three stone houses and a cluster of sandbagged bunkers cling to a slope above the Korangal Valley, forming an oval perimeter roughly 75 yards long. The oval is reinforced with timber and ringed with concertina wire.
An Afghan flag flutters atop a tower where Afghan soldiers look out, ducking when rifle shots snap by.
This is Firebase Vimoto, named for Pfc. Timothy R. Vimoto, an American soldier killed in the valley two years ago. If all goes according to the Pentagon?s plan, this tiny perimeter home to an Afghan platoon and two Marine Corps infantrymen contains the future of Afghanistan. The Obama administration hopes that eventually the Afghan soldiers within will become self-sufficient, allowing the fight against the Taliban to be shifted to local hands.
For now this vulnerable little land claim in the hostile village of Babeyal and supported by a network of American infantry positions nearby offers something else: a fine-grained glimpse inside the Afghan war, and the remarkably young men often at the front of it.
There are nearly 30 Afghan soldiers here. Their senior mentor, Cpl. Sean P. Conroy, of Carmel, N.Y., is 25 years old. His assistant, Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Murray, of Fort Myers, Fla., is 21.
On the ground, far from the generals in Kabul and the policy makers in Washington, the hour-by-hour conduct of the war rests in part in the deeds of men this young, who have been given latitude to lead as their training and instincts guide them.
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