“Fear is one of the best friends a champion has.”

— José Torres, world light heavyweight champion

The three of us are picking through the desert hardscrabble, collecting the packs another platoon stashed here earlier, when we hear a sound. We turn and look up at the ravine toward the dirt road where we parked our truck a few minutes ago. A crowd of maybe 50 Afghan guys is standing up there, seven or eight yards away, looking down at us. A crowd of Afghan guys with guns. A crowd of Afghan guys with guns, who don’t look happy.

It’s early 2002, just a few months after 9/11, and we are in northeastern Afghanistan on a search-and-seizure operation, looking for bad guys. We wonder if maybe we just found some.