OCS Book Report
War, Sebastian Junger
09 May 2013
War is the account of reporter Sebastian Junger's time spent with the men of 2nd Platoon, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan. The reporter spent time with the unit between 2007 and 2008. Junger focuses on the psychological effects of war on the men who fight it. “The core psychological experiences of war are so primal and unadulterated, however, that they eclipse subtler feelings, like sorrow or remorse, that can gut you quietly for years”.
The story of War is that of young men fighting a tenacious, resilient enemy. The local Afghans in the Korengal have been fighting invading armies for millennium, dating back to Alexander the Great. A dynamic is established between the men of Battle Company and their Afghan counterparts. The US soldiers are here in the valley on orders, fighting an enemy that has little emotional attachment to the men themselves or their lives and families at home. On the opposing side, Junger illustrates an enemy who despises the US forces for not only firing on their home, but attracting large numbers of Taliban to the valley.
Although the men of 2nd PLT B CO had no emotional attachment to the enemy, one grew from the camaraderie and collective grief from losing fallen brothers. Junger dictates the feeling of selfless service that directs a man's actions in war; “It was an anesthetic that left you aware of what was happening but strangely fatalistic about the outcome. As a soldier, the thing you were most scared of was failing your brothers when they needed you, and compared to that, dying was easy.” Interestingly enough however, for as much time as Junger spends probing the psyche of the men he shadowed, he invests very little real estate into getting to know the characters themselves.
One thing that was lacking from the text was much discussion of leadership. Both First Lieutenant Steve Gillespie...
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