The Korangal riverbed had become a kill zone. The American soldiers had crossed after a friendly handshake with a local elder, only to have a bomb explode when the lead squad reached the opposite side. Taliban fighters rained bullets on a second squad exposed in the riverbed, while a third group of Americans on the slope behind returned fire.The New York Times tells the story of a battle that exemplifies the Afghan war in microcosm—but in this particular case, one of those trapped was a Times photographer.
The platoon leader yelled at the radio operator to stay put, but he couldn’t hear him. “We gotta move!” he shouted, and with the photographer dashed down the bank, through the chest-deep water and up the opposite slope. They'd escaped. The insurgents continued firing, on the verge of overrunning the soldiers, when a timely airstrike turned the tides. It had all the elements that come together every day in Afghanistan: Villagers helping insurgents, an ambush in grueling terrain, with American tactical might finally evening the odds.