Like so many other days here, a convoy, carrying supplies for U.S. and Afghan Army forces is attacked by Taliban insurgents on Highway 1, just outside the Forward Operating Base Howz-E-Madad.

When an Afghan National Army Unit responds, they come under heavy fire. Mortar rounds drop within a hundred feet of their position. They split their team — one staying to the west, the other moving up the Highway east. They return fire of their own with light machine guns and rounds of rocket-propelled grenades. But when one of their pickup trucks stalls out in the middle of the line of fire, the men abandon it and take cover on the berm to the north side of the road, opposite the Taliban.

While they continue to trade fire, a sandstorm turns the day to beige, edges are blurred, everything and everyone loses definition.

The momentum of the small battle comes to a halt.

Out of the dust another Afghan Army pickup truck emerges and pulls in front of the stalled vehicle. A soldier attaches a rope between them and the stalled truck is towed back to Howz-E-Madad — just as the gritty air has silenced the guns.

The rest of the unit makes the quarter mile walk back to base. Their dark figures emerge, ghostlike from the swirling dust as they approach the wire.

(Photo by Kevin Sites for GlobalPost)
(Photo by Kevin Sites for GlobalPost)
(Photo by Kevin Sites for GlobalPost)
(Photo by Kevin Sites for GlobalPost)

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