The Operators

“Arroyo left fucking today, man,” he said. “He had to escort another soldier back to Germany. That fucking guy had been going around saying he was going to kill an Afghan or kill a fucking interpreter. He was acting fucking nuts, so they let him go home. Arroyo went with him to make sure he didn’t do anything fucking stupid.”

-Michael Hastings, The Operators, page 252

The Operators

I pulled open the MRAP door. Pronounced em-rap, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle entered the war to replace the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or Humvee. The bombs got bigger, and the three thousand pounds of armor on the Humvee was too easily shredded. The MRAP, though, was about the worst kind of vehicle one could have imagined for the terrain in Afghanistan: mountainous, wadi-filled, and roadless. It was slow, easily got stuck in the mud, and required paved roads to be most effective. The entire country had only one major highway. It also fell far short as the primary ride in a military campaign dedicated to swaying a local population. The twenty-two-ton vehicles were intimidating and loud and frightening and difficult to drive without regularly causing severe property damage. The MRAP underscored the alien nature of our presence. Add a life support system pumping oxygen into the metallic caverns and you might as well be cruising around in a tank on occupied Mars. Rather than project strength, the MRAP perversely sent another message: the complete fear and hatred the Americans had for the people they were supposedly there to protect. The MRAP was there to save us, not them. (It did so: There was an 80 percent better chance of surviving an attack in an MRAP compared to a Humvee.) The network of roads we were building in the country – the humanitarian projects of approximately 720 miles of asphalt over 10 years, at the staggering cost of about $600,000 per mile – had a dual purpose in making it easier for us to drive around the country to kill the disgruntled peasants.

-Hastings, page 252/3


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