First, a quibble.
Here’s the lede from C.J. Chivers’ page one piece in Sunday’s New York Times about a Marine battalion getting its first taste of war:
MARJA, Afghanistan — The helicopters landed before dawn Saturday in a poppy field beside a row of mud-walled compounds. The Marines ran into the darkness and crouched through the rotor-whipped dust as their aircraft lifted away.
And here’s the lede of the Sunday Boston Globe’s pickup from the New York Times wire service:
MARJA, Afghanistan – The helicopters landed before dawn yesterday, alighting in a poppy field beside a row of mud-walled compounds. The Marines ran into the darkness and crouched through the rotor-whipped dust as their aircraft lifted away. [emphasis added]
(Memo to Globe night desk editors: Stop clunkifying perfectly good ledes and start paying attention to the serious errors in the paper (see here).
Back to the Chivers piece:
Even on short deadline (Saturday action/Sunday report), Chivers packs a punch. Examples:
At 12:40, fighting broke out for Third Platoon. For almost three hours, Second and Third Platoons took sporadic fire from [Taliban] insurgents in several directions. At times the fighting was intense, and the gunfire rose and roared and snapped overhead.
The Taliban let the Marines walk into an open field and approach a tall stand of dried grass. Then they opened fire in a hasty ambush. The Marines dropped. They fired back, exposed. Gunfire rose to a crescendo.
At night, Captain Biggers reflected on the day. An explosives ordnance disposal team with the company had found and destroyed four large bombs hidden in the roads. The platoons had seized their first objectives. In its first day of combat, Company K had been fighting for hours without a casualty, and several Taliban fighters were lying dead in one of the fields.
That’s how the piece ends.
How the war in Afghanistan ends is anybody’s guess.