As it often happens in one's career in the military, you leave an organization that meant a lot to you, in terms of many things. Most of them tend to be intangible, like the opportunities to stand on a expanse of virgin sand that has probably not seen a human tread on it before your presence, where you realize that your profession gives meaning to your life.
I recently left what is likely my last light armored reconnaissance battalion for a billet at one of our infantry schools. While I welcome the break from the grind of preparatory training and eventual deployments, I miss the men who make up that fine battalion already. I have had the opportunity to stand on some remarkable patches of dirt and see some amazing things, just as I did with the first LAR battalion I served with from 2002-2005.
One of the captone operations we conducted was a 160 kilometer raid to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border of Bahram Cha, in order to disrupt insurgent cross-border activity and prevent them from using the Bahram Cha bazaar as a hub for the trafficking of drugs, weapons, foreign fighters and other insurgents. The task force assembled to conduct the mission was immense, by just about every measure imaginable, and movement down and back took its toll on men and machine. I've traveled quite a few long stretches in the variants of the Light Armored Vehicle, the Operation Steel Dawn II was no different. Sadly, that will probably be the last time I traverse the battlefield in one of those beautiful vehicles.
Just a few months after I stepped down from that vehicle, I was saying goodbye to my battalion and my commander, a man who allowed me to be the second-in-command that he needed, and to help forge the unit into the fighting force it was capable of becoming. I gave that man a copy of The Barce Raid: The Long Range Desert Group's Greatest Escapade, by Brendan O'Carroll, to commemorate his joining the ranks, so to speak, of the desert raiders. I inscribed a note of thanks for the opportunity to work with him, and shared the link to this blog. A link to video shot by a combat correspondent is here: http://www.dvidshub.net/video/104068/bazaar-raid-bahram-cha-part-1