Deep in a sheer-walled canyon that slices miles into a range of arid mountains, a group of five U.S. Marines ascend a rickety staircase at the base of a small dam. Rounding a hairpin switchback, the Marines make eye contact with a group of men dressed in traditional Pashtun outfits. The two groups exchange salutations the Marines struggling to use the correct inflections in their broken Pashto then prepare some tea. The Marines are seeking to forge a lasting relationship with the locals to help nurture a burgeoning tide of security in the mountainous hinterlands, far from a centralized government.
Mountain Viper Training the Tip of the Spear
The Marine Corps' Mountain Warfare Training Center prepares Leathernecks for the rigors of combat in Afghanistan.
By Ed Darack