“Your Afghan soldiers’ barracks is on fire.”

I had just sat down with my breakfast in our small dining area at Firebase Cobra in northern Uruzgan province, as the captain of the ODA team from 3rd Special Forces Group casually walked up to me. I stopped mid-chew, my fork hanging in the air, partway between my mouth and my plate. Admittedly, it took me a moment to process what he has just said, especially given the relaxed nature of his demeanor and the comical look on his face.

“What?” I asked him.

“Of course it is,” I thought. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

He stood there, clearly still amused, and probably enjoying the hell out of the moment.

“Roger, Sir. Thanks!” I jumped up, dumped my nearly full plate of breakfast into the trash on the way out the door, and ran across the staging area for our side of the firebase, through the large metal gate that separated our side of the base from the Afghan side. As I made it to the gate and rounded the corner, I saw the smoke. Sure enough, just like the captain had said, the small barracks, made of cinderblock and plywood, belonging to the Afghan National Army (ANA) was, actually, on freaking fire. Up to that moment, I half expected that he was just messing with me.


Throwing Rocks at a Fire, Will Not Help Extinguish It

Right after I saw the smoke and flames starting to billow out of the barracks, I saw three of my ANA men standing outside the entrance of their barracks. They were picking up rocks from the ground and throwing them into the barracks’ doorway in an attempt to put out the fire.