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‘The Deer Hunter’ Came to Town on a Cold Night in Denver

by Jack Hawkins Released in Los Angeles in 1978, The Deer Hunter was already becoming a legendary film by the time it hit “flyover country” a few months later. I was between girlfriends, a gung-ho “seventies copper” usually “drunk on adrenaline” from the endless barfight calls (or still depressed over …

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‘The Taliban Are Behind My Door’: The Whispered Message From a Friend in Afghanistan

by Susan Katz Keating “The Taliban are behind my door.” The whispered words came through the phone in the pitch of night, hours after Kabul fell on August 15, 2021. My friend “Hakim,” a man I had been trying from afar to help leave Afghanistan, called me from inside his …

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When Things Went Wrong On the Road to Al Asad

by Harry Ramsbottom In late October 2005, my team and I had been dropped off in a terrible little place on the Baghdad-to- Amman highway called Ar Rutbah, to coordinate supply convoys coming out of Jordan with the Marines who controlled this sector. The convoys mostly carried fuel and supplies …

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Alone Against the Taliban: Mad Dog Platoon and the Battle of OP Nevada

by Susan Katz Keating The Soviets called it Chernaya Gora: Black Mountain. That is where a unit of elite Spetsnaz forces met their deaths in Afghanistan, atop a remote observation post overlooking Kunar. I learned about the treacherous place in 2015, while researching an article for the Army National Guard.  …

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The Sands of Agadez: Where a Woman Knows More Than She Should About Gun Lords and Mercenaries 

by Carl Hancocks For the past four years, the city of Agadez has been what could barely pass as home for a woman without a name. Nigerian, she fends for herself as a sex-worker, but that was not how she arrived in this place. Her story is that of a …

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Soviet Soldiers Boiled Their Ammunition While Serving in Afghanistan: Here’s Why

by Nikolay Shevchenko During the Soviet war in Afghanistan, there was a widespread army tale. Russian soldiers were often seen boiling their ammo for hours in a pot over an open fire. Tales of this widespread practice strike many contemporaries as something inexplicable, but there was a logic behind this …

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Arizona Border Recon: Cartel on the Hilltop

By Heath Hansen Wedged between rocks, I scan with my binoculars and notice a bunker complex built into the top of theopposite hill. I keep observing and see three men, wearing green fatigues, walking between eachfighting position. All three are armed with AK-47’s. That isn’t Afghanistan. It’s Mexico. I had …

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Soldiers of Misfortune, Captured in Brazil: Escape, Evasion, and Hiding Out in a Bordello

by John Coleman If there’s a lesson to be learned from merc work, it’s this -you are on your own. When you put your trust in others, or rely on outside forces for salvation, you’re buying yourself a one·way ticket to the oblivion of a mercs’ limbo: jail if you’re …

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