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A Brief History of The Taliban Hunter

Posted on 16 November 2017

This blog post isn't going to make much sense if you haven't seen the video, so if you haven't seen it, watch below. It's been shared a lot lately on Instagram and meme-factory Facebook pages. That's me in the video so I thought I'd give the internet-at-large a little background on the Taliban Hunter. 

The Taliban Hunter originated in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, around the fall of 2005. I was deployed with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines in Laghman and then Kunar province. We were the only Marine Corps infantry battalion in the entire country. Hence, we were used a lot. We covered a lot of ground and occasionally got to shoot our weapons. 

If you've ever spent time humping a pack through Afghanistan, you know you can get a little delirious. That's how the Taliban Hunter started. With a healthy dose of mortar rounds, 7.62mm ammo cans, a case of water, three days of MREs, your personal loadout, body armor—it's like carrying another person on your back. A person who eats too many donuts.

And much love and respect for Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter.

The original Taliban Hunter video was shot just above the Matin Village in Kunar province, just east of the Korengal Valley, a week into a month long mission that would cap our deployment to the region. We had decimated Ahmad Shah's militia known as the Mountain Tigers—the militia responsible for shooting down the Navy SEALs helicopters that were written about in the book Lone Survivor. We had wounded Shah and killed his son. Would you believe we got intelligence Shah was airlifted to a Pakistani hospital? That was August. 

This was December. We had just been in contact with a small Taliban or Al-Qaeda related force and routed them with machine gun fire and a TOW missile strike. All night long, a AC-130 Spectre gunship bombarded their positions with 40mm HEDP and its 105mm howitzer. One of our Marines scored a Killimanjaro on a seven-man element with a TOW missile. 

That sounds cooler than it was for my fireteam. As the platoon below returned fire, we were a three hours hike up to a peak to watch the rear, and a place where we found that actually there was another peak behind that one, and another peak behind that one. Anyway, the next morning, a villager brought us some cornbread version of dorday (when you Google Afghan bread, it says that it's naan-i-afghani—but everyone there just calls it dorday) and some chai tea—which you see me drinking in the video. This is when the Taliban Hunter struck. We were pretty delirious for not being able to do anything but watch the firefight from he night before—it was a bit like watching a fireworks show. But more exciting. More exhilarating—like you were watching something that men rarely get the chance to witness.

That observation position was pretty standard for northeastern Afghanistan. You'd see a peak, and the company commander or lieutenant would say, "get on top of that peak, devil dog," and you would hike for hours just to find another peak behind that one, followed by even more mountains behind that one. Furthermore, when you arrived at the top, there was usually already a fighting position there. Or a mud-hut and a family who had to hike that mountain every morning just to pull water for their morning tea.

Keep in mind that Afghanistan has been a battlefield for most of its written history, from the Achaemenid empire in 500 BCE, to Alexander the Great and his Macedonians in 330 BCE, followed by the Greco-Bactrians, Mauryans, Kushans, the Huns, to the Islamic revolution, then almost obliterated by Ghengis Khan (this is why the Hazara look like they're from China), to the more recent Mughal Empire, Uzbeks, the Durani Persians, and finally the Indo-European wars, the end of the dynasties, to the Russian invasion, Taliban and Al-Qaeda governments, and to the mess we have now. That is by no means an exhaustive list but—you get the idea. There is no mountaintop that hasn't been fought over before, so it's typical to find a dug position literally everywhere you go in the country. 

Anyway. Back to the Taliban Hunter. I had been working on the impression a bit, and during patrols I'd comment on the local Afghans in the accent, making a bit of fun out of a tough job. The guys were loving it over a cup of strong chai and decided to film me going off about the Taliban. 

Hope you guys enjoyed the video—thanks for watching and sharing and making me a living meme. 


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