Peter van Agtmael
An Iraqi soldier guards a mud hut after a midnight raid on a small farming compound suspected of harboring insurgents.  The hideout was down a long dirt road in the outskirts of Mosul.  It was surrounded by a platoon of Stryker’s after midnight on a winter weekend.  The night was bright, the moon full and casting vivid shadows.  The three houses in the compound were raided simultaneously.  A line of soldiers, a ‘stack,’ moved up discreetly outside each house.  At the signal, the lead soldier kicked in the door and moved out of the way, and the rest of the stack ran behind him with weapons raised and high-powered flashlights scanning rapidly, yelling ‘get down’ and ‘hands up’ in English and broken Arabic.  Lining the walls of the hut slept the young family on thin mattresses covered in layers of blankets to keep out the chill of the desert night.  The suspected insurgents sleeping inside had little chance to react.  The man closest to the door was restrained immediately.  He was grabbed and shoved against the wall, a soldier restraining his arms behind his back.  The second man awoke with a start, and immediately started fumbling for something under the blanket.  Hawk, the unit’s Kurdish interpreter, took several long steps and punched him sharply in the face, dazing him until he was restrained.  ‘I should have shot him,’ said Hawk, who nevertheless chose not to when given the opportunity.
An Iraqi soldier guards a mud hut after a midnight raid on a small farming compound suspected of harboring insurgents. The hideout was down a long dirt road in the outskirts of Mosul. It was surrounded by a platoon of Stryker’s after midnight on a winter weekend. The night was bright, the moon full and casting vivid shadows. The three houses in the compound were raided simultaneously. A line of soldiers, a ‘stack,’ moved up discreetly outside each house. At the signal, the lead soldier kicked in the door and moved out of the way, and the rest of the stack ran behind him with weapons raised and high-powered flashlights scanning rapidly, yelling ‘get down’ and ‘hands up’ in English and broken Arabic. Lining the walls of the hut slept the young family on thin mattresses covered in layers of blankets to keep out the chill of the desert night. The suspected insurgents sleeping inside had little chance to react. The man closest to the door was restrained immediately. He was grabbed and shoved against the wall, a soldier restraining his arms behind his back. The second man awoke with a start, and immediately started fumbling for something under the blanket. Hawk, the unit’s Kurdish interpreter, took several long steps and punched him sharply in the face, dazing him until he was restrained. ‘I should have shot him,’ said Hawk, who nevertheless chose not to when given the opportunity.

Peter van Agtmael

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