The day Osama bin Laden died, Lieutenant Tran waited for Taliban to appear. He scanned the opposite ridge through binoculars, but saw only rocks.

"You gotta be shitting me," someone said on the radio.

"What just went out on BFT?"

An unassuming message occupied the center of Tran’s blue-force-tracker screen like a stain on a tablecloth.

COMISAF reports Osama bin Laden is dead.

This must be some staff officer’s idea of a joke. He tapped the dim button until the screen went black, and continued searching though his binoculars. The valley was familiar by then, like a friend who had overstayed his welcome. The mountains made a bowl with a green gash of terraced farmland surrounding a half-ruined village.

A clap followed by a hiss rolled down the hill, and the ridgeline blossomed with high-explosive. At the top of the hill, Tran’s Afghan allies reloaded their recoilless rifle. The weapon sneezed again; the round impacted wild and untethered against the ridgeline across the valley. Tran scanned the rocks with his binoculars, finding no sign of the enemy. What do they think they were doing? Shooting for the sake of shooting. Their lieutenant pointed at the mountains, coercing the crew to load faster. Tran told Jay, his interpreter, to get out of the truck. They marched up the hill to have words with the Afghans.

"They are talking about shooting the enemy sir," 

 

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