Title: Afghanistan: The Final Chapter
Description: Focused on International War
Afghanistan (Intrepid) - March 8, 2012 12:42 AM (GMT)
A busy marketplace in Kandahar. A single explosion, echoing across the city. Nothing that has not been heard before. Business continues as usual, over the screams of the wounded.
An office block on the outskirts of Kabul. As the dust settles, just moments after the blast, policemen and civilians are digging through the rubble of the facade, looking for survivors.
An Afghan National Army checkpoint in Helmand Province. A soldier dead, another conveniently missing. The six remaining, their sergeant dead, attempt to reassert order.
Afghanistan (Intrepid) - March 9, 2012 06:29 PM (GMT)
The man known as Zayed looked up from table, popping one last pickled garlic clove into his mouth as the messenger he had been waiting on arrived.
"What is the report from yesterday?"
"Kandahar, the patrol was running late, they were not there when it exploded. 12 civilians, mostly old men. Perhaps 30 wounded. Kabul, Shinwari was injured seriously, but she's not dead. There is a plan to help her with that problem, should be finished in the next day or two. Helmand was somebody else, probably associated with the Haqqanis, but we don't know for sure."
"Good work. Spring is upon us. One last campaign to remind the foreign devils that we still have bite, and then we wait. Remember, Hassan, they will go. They always have."
Afghanistan (Intrepid) - March 9, 2012 08:12 PM (GMT)
Farzad slowed the battered old Toyota at the street corner in Kandahar and picked up his informant.
"You still drive this piece of shit, Farzad? I would have thought the Americans would have given you a nice big truck, like they drive around in."
Farzad rolled his eyes. The informant said the exact same thing, every time they had a meet. it hadn't even been funny the first time they'd met like this, almost 5 years ago.
"Yeah, yeah, they keep telling me I'm on the waiting list. Now, what was it you dragged me halfway across the city to tell me? My wife has dinner waiting for me."
"Alright, alright. But only because I like you. There's a new player, he's Afghan, but he's been abroad since 1989, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, somewhere like that. He came back 2 years ago, now Mullah Omar and the Pakistanis are giving him total control. Regional commanders talk to his people, we talk to the regional leaders... it's never been like this before, the structure, I mean. Even small attacks, like that bomb in the marketplace last week, that was him."
"Shit. What else?"
"I got nothing. Nobody's sure how to react at this point."
"Alright, here you go. Now get out."
Farzad passed him an envelope, 200 American dollars could buy you a lot in Afghanistan these days. He knew most of it would invariably go into buying fuel and ammunition from the Afghan Army on the black market, but that wasn't his problem. It was worth it, to keep the information flowing. It always paid to have the second son of the local Taliban-affiliated warlord on the tab.
Spain (JCU) - March 9, 2012 10:44 PM (GMT)
Forward Operating Base Bala Murghab
Badghis Province, Western Afghanistan
66th Mountain Infantry Regiment “America”
29 March 2012, 1100L
The men of 2nd Battalion stood at solemn attention as La Rojigualda gently descended from the camp's makeshift flagpole to the notes of the Royal March. Once it had been removed from its clasps, Lt. Col Javier Marias rendered a crisp salute to the Afghan colonel across from him. It was 2012 now, more than a decade since Spanish troops had first set foot in Afghanistan. Spain was just now starting the process withdrawal, with the handover of FOB Bala to the Afghan National Army. According to the timeline negotiated with NATO, Spain would withdraw 150 troops this year, another 600 in 2013, with the remainder to be gone "sometime in 2014." Lt. Col Marias' unit was one that was not being replaced.
Badghis, he thought, was a symbol of the cautious progress ISAF had made in securing the country from militants. They hadn't had a major incident since a deadly roadside bomb last November. It helped that the province was majority Tajik, and so not naturally receptive to the Taliban's brand of militarism. But there was a sizable Pashtun minority, and Marias had occasional been brought in to mediate between the frequent bickering of the two sides. Although one of the poorest regions in an already desperate nation, Badghis did have significant agricultural potential outside of the drug trade, and was beginning to show signs of life. They had done good work here, he thought.
Marias and his men would now rejoin the Spanish-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in the provincial capital of Qala i Naw for a few weeks before returning home to Navarre. There, he would receive some well-deserved leave with his family before pinning on Colonel, after which he would be destined for a Staff job in Madrid. As he handed over the base guidon to the Afghan across from him, Marias thought to himself that this assignment was probably the last real combat he would ever see.
Afghanistan (Intrepid) - March 10, 2012 10:20 AM (GMT)
Farzad walked into his boss' office, nestled in the basement of the National Police headquarters, and closed the door behind him. His boss looked up from his desk, and tossed him a copy of his latest report.
"I passed this up to Kabul. Got a call from some nobody in the President's office, telling me that Karzai's interested, but they won't give us any more men or money. I'm sorry, you're on your own for this one. I can't even afford to take you off of the other cases you're working on, but I do want this to be number one priority."
"What am I supposed to do now?"
"You're supposed to play it safe. Don't you have family near Kabul? Send your wife and kid up there for at least a couple of weeks. And take this."
Farzad picked up the AK-74U. "What do I need this for? I've already got a pistol in my car."
The boss glared at him. "If you're going to keep digging around, I want you prepared for every eventuality. Watch your back, there, Farzad. I'm getting too old for this job, and I want you alive to take my office someday soon."
Afghanistan (Intrepid) - March 11, 2012 05:06 PM (GMT)
Zayed reread the letter one last time. So, the Iranians were putting out feelers. The men in Dubai had been approached, discreetly. They wanted to know what to do. He didn't hesitate. He grabbed a fresh piece of paper and a pen and began a list. Since it would have to go to Pakistan anyways before on to Dubai, might as well pass the wish list on to everybody. Even if some of the shipments got held up or captured, he should, Allah willing, have everything he needed to mount the summer offensive. If everything went to plan, the West would be begging to negotiate in the end.
When he finished, he lit a candle. After waiting for a moment, he sealed both of the letters with the blood red wax, before pinching out the candle. He handed them to a young man, and sent them on their way to Khyber.