Chapter no 112


ONE OF OUR DRONES had been watching the Taliban school its fighters.

Despite popular assumptions, the Taliban had good equipment. Nothing like ours, but good, effective—when used correctly. So they often needed to bring their soldiers up to speed. There were frequent tutorials in the desert, instructors demonstrating the newest gear from Russia and Iran. That was what this lesson captured by the drones seemed to be. A shooting lesson.

The red phone rang. Down went the coffee mugs and PlayStation controls. We ran to the Apaches, flew north at a good clip, twenty-five feet off the ground.

Darkness was starting to fall. We were ordered by controllers to hold off, about eight kilometers.

In the deepening twilight we could barely see the target area. Just shadows moving about.

Bikes leaning against a wall. Wait, we were told.

We circled and circled.


Shallow breaths.

Now came the signal: The shooting lesson is over. Giddyup. Go, go, go.

The instructor, the high-value target, was on a motorbike, one of his students on the back. We screamed towards them, clocked them moving along at 40 k.p.h., one of them carrying a hot-barreled PKM machine gun. I held my thumb over the cursor, watched the screen, waited. There! I pulled one trigger to fire the pointing laser and another to fire the missile.

The thumbstick I fired was remarkably similar to the thumbstick for the PlayStation game I’d just been playing.

The missile hit just short of the motorbike’s spokes. Textbook. Exactly where I’d been taught to aim. Too high, you might send it over the top of his head. Too low, you’d take out nothing but dirt and sand.

Delta Hotel. Direct hit.

I followed up with the 30-mm.

Where the motorbike had been was now a cloud of smoke and flames. Well done, Dave said.

We swooped back to camp, critiqued the video. Perfect kill.

We played some more PlayStation. Turned in early.

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