One terrible thing about being in a combat environment is that sometimes you forget you are at war. Things tend to work much like the movie Groundhog Day, where you get up everyday and do pretty much the same thing. However, sometimes there are events that bring you back to reality. Yesterday was one of those days.
I think I've mentioned them before, but the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Paktika has a team in the East and the West. I work closely with the guys in the East, as we share an office. Yesterday, on a typical road inspection patrol, two members of the team in the West were killed by an IED. Moreover, a young boy around the age of 12 was struck by a bullet that ricocheted off a berm at one of our ranges. The bullet entered one of his cheeks and got lodged at the base of his skull, breaking his neck. Luckily he still alive, but was evacuated to Bagram Air Field to receive treatment and has not seen any of his family since leaving OE. Today, I had to tell his older brother and cousin that he is in stable condition, but it will be a while before they can see him. In both cases, these people were going through their normal routines; yet they were just in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Complacency is a disease that can permeate every aspect of life in theater. When you first show up here, you are keenly aware of every loud noise, whether it's incoming or outgoing artillery, or merely a door that closes to hard and rattles the walls. However, you become so used to that kind of stuff that you forget the fact that death and destruction may be lurking over the shoulder. Thinking too much about that can drive you insane, yet forgetting it can be just as deadly.