So things may have looked quiet here over the past couple months. But fear not, I’ve been plenty busy.

Besides writing a regular column for East Africa Flyer/Aviation East Africa, taking up some other less-war-related writing gigs (to be revealed shortly), and working as an anti-human trafficking attorney here in DC, I’ve also been pounding away on several book projects. They’re coming along well, though these things never get done as quickly as you’d like them to. Last year would’ve been nice.

I’ve also been spending a good amount of time with my dog, Puck, who is pretty much my parents’ dog at this point but still obeys me better than anyone else (just stating the facts). Went for a solo camp with him out in Shenandoah Valley last weekend. Thought I might share the photographic gem above with the world, because you can always use more huge pink dog tongue in your life.

More updates & articles coming very soon.

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Created by Alex Kirkwood, brother to Will’s girlfriend Kimmy Kirkwood, and with whom I drank many Washington Apples in Will’s honor this past weekend. It’s beautiful, almost painfully so, and does Will great justice.

Sergeant William Stacey Tribute from Alex Kirkwood on Vimeo.

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For those who have been following, you’ll know who Sgt. Stacey is (left, above). He was killed this morning by an IED. He was one of the most humane and wise human beings I have ever met, and a hell of a Marine. I wrote the following on my typewriter while getting personal with a bottle of scotch this evening.

There aren’t too many Marines that I wanted to get a beer with once we were back home. I made good friends with many of them, but there weren’t more than a dozen who I really thought I’d spend time with once we’d returned to the civilized world of women and booze and concerns about what type of blinds to put on the windows. A lot of the real world doesn’t make sense out there. A lot of the things people here worry about. Try watchingReal Housewives and imagine what it looks like to a Marine just returned from their deployment. Beer makes sense though. Everyone makes plans to get a beer together once they’re back. I drank a lot of non-alcoholic Becks over there but needless to say it just ain’t the same.

Sergeant Stacey—Will, as he became once I’d returned to the States and exchanged a few emails with his mother—was one of the few I made plans with. He commanded the squad I was embedded with when I ended up in my first firefight, and it was plainer than anything that he kept the men under his command alive. I’ve already written about him, his confidence and charisma and strangely rugged wisdom for a young man of twenty-three, his ridiculous mustache, but now there is more to say because Will is dead.

Full article is here.

I will never forget him. He, and his family, deserved better than this. But with the life he had, he did something incredible, something very few people achieve with a full ninety years. So here’s to you, Will. You’re a great fucking guy.

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Picked up a copy of the IHT’s Magazine while I was passing through Germany on the way back stateside. Had a fascinating set of essays from some very interesting people about power, politics, and passion–basically, what the hell is going on with these kids these days, tearing down governments, I don’t know, in my day we just had a barn dance and called it a night.

Felt some of the more thought-provoking pieces, on Burma’s continuing decades-long struggle and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular, raised a very important question about modern revolutions–and, by implication, most modern wars.

For The Faster Times:

The International Herald Tribune Magazine chose to mark the world’s passage into yet another lap around the sun this month with a collection of meditations, from brief to ponderous, on the intersection of politics, passion, and power. Many took the chance to comment on the revolutions that seem to have swept the planet while it was staggering out the current circuit. Many rehashed the same question that’s been asked since the old Tunisian regime first began to look wobbly: what the hell made this time different?

Popular unrest is hardly a new thing. Only two and a half years ago Iran came closer to a complete regime change than it has since 1979, when it actually didgo through one. Two years before that the people of Burma/Myanmar launched a non-violent resistance movement remarkable for its breadth, its resilience in the face of brutal crackdown, and its ultimate failure. The Tamil Tigers waged an insurrection against the Sri Lankan government for decades, veering wildly between guerilla warfare, democratic participation, and outright terrorism, until they were literally pummeled into a bloody smear across the earth by an artillery siege in 2009.

Yet after years of failed revolutions, and with some early speculation that the era of catastrophic regime change might be done and gone, a bloody wash of them suddenly spilled across the Middle East like so much Red Dye No. 5. The Arab Spring seems to have changed not only the playbook (replacing Molotovs, secret codes, and sharp rocks with Twitter, Facebook, and cell phone cameras as the weapons of the proletariat) but the fundamental rules of the regime-change game (which were starting to look something like “Don’t Bother,”). It’s happening again, as though regimes—like ducks, sperm whales, and other natural prey to our species—occasionally become ‘in season’ and must be slaughtered en masse, at maximum velocity, before we allow them another period of respite.

Full article can be found here.

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Returned to Washington, DC, yesterday.

It’s been an incredible month in Afghanistan. I’ve had the honor to meet, live, and work with some of the finest people in the world. Marines, Afghans, NATO soldiers and even the occasional UK government employee. These are people whose stories are riddled with courage, resilience, and faith, in the face of great danger and great privation. They make sacrifices on a daily basis that we in the ‘real’ world (as it is often called over there) never hear about, sometimes overwhelming ones, just to budge the tide of the war that little bit towards the better.

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Ended up in a firefight the other day, with sixteen Marines and an onion on my side. Thought I might write something on it.

For The Faster Times:

Kurghay, Afghanistan—We were rambling down the pass from the Bedouin’s tents when the first bullets winged by overhead. Long, drawn-out whistling sounds, almost musical, nothing like the zipI’d heard in flicks. The Sergeant thought it might be overshot fire from a couple klicks away,  aimed at a vehicle unit—Cat One—halfway between us and an insurgent position on the far side of the valley. Then Lance-Corporal Stephen Johnson, a combat cameraman a few meters behind me, piped up.

“Hey Sarge,” he said calmly, “that one landed right by my foot.”

Full article can be found here.

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Another excellent (and hilarious) video by Scott Baldwin. Lt. Max Bernstein, one of the 2/4’s Magnificent Bastards, engages in a foot race with one of the teachers at Asad Souri school in Now Zad. Lt. Bernstein is one of the platoon commanders of Weapons Company, who helped rebuild Asad Souri after the district center had been reduced to rublle and entirely evacuated by civilians just two years ago. The school now has over four hundred students.

 

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A video of the village where 2/4’s recent op took place (and a bit of me) shot by Scott Baldwin. Scott is a law enforcement adviser embedded with 2/4 here in Now Zad, and an all-around great guy. He bears much of the responsibility for getting the Afghan police up to snuff, a incredibly difficult and important task that he handles with aplomb. This was shot right after the first firefight of the operation, which took place on the far side of the village, during a torrential downpour and lightning storm. We could see tracers arcing up into the mountains from where we stood.

Scott’s (very flattering) comments on the video:

Some footage of a correspondent, friend of mine, here in Afghanistan. No doubt that Lars Dabney is willing to suffer the elements to report on the war in Afghanistan. It was rainy, muddy, cold, dangerous, and miserable. And…he ate with us, traveled with us, slept in the mud, and did all things inherent to combat…other than toting a weapon. Lars earned the respect and trust of several Marines here…and he can go anywhere he likes with me. Footage is post gunfight in a lightning and rain storm. Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Have a Nice Day!

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Important things I learned in Kurghay:

Marines are bad for my smoking habit.

Condensation will get your sleeping bag wetter than rain.

The mangina is also known as a ‘Reverse Fruit Basket’.

Being shot at is a rush.

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