The not uncommon way for kids to get around. Photo by Matt.

The three dead hooligans and their car. In the ditch is a long-abandoned armored vehicle. Photo by Jeff.

The IED craters near the chicken ranches. Second photo by Matt.

When clearing buildings, this is a startlingly bizarre thing to come upon.

The house and its occupants, hours before our raid of it. Photo by Kirk.

To any kids out there thinking about becoming infantrymen, here is one of the meat and potatoes elements of being a grunt: scanning your sector. My team’s job was to pull outer security on the building while another team searched it. My platoon sergeant and platoon leader came up with the plan for the raid and left to me the task of security. As a team leader, my job was to determine how to break the perimeter up into what are called sectors of fire. The above photo was my sector. If any lookyloos started poking their heads out, you’d tell them to get inside. If anyone got on a roof with a rifle, you’d shoot them. Establishing sectors of fire is not hard, you just place soldiers in locations where collectively the team has eyes on everything and some degree of cover, such as a wall or a corner of a building, and if any threats present themselves in your sector, you engage that threat.

Dan, with his M14, a.k.a. “The Long Gun”, scanning his sector.

Matt, scanning his sector. As you can see, this town is a tactical nightmare. All the roofs are open with a rampart-style small wall around them with arrow loop-like slots that a rifle could easily fire through; narrow alleys; six-foot walls surrounding the property; every single fucking household is allowed one weapon, usually an AK-47; and just to make it especially tricky, I’d guess that sixty percent of the town is under the age of twelve.

Never tell a group of New Yorkers raiding your home that you can’t find the keys to your car because they will open your car in a way you may not like.