June 28th, 2011
07:54 AM ET

In the deadly valley of Kunar

Kunar, Afghanistan — Kunar province, on Afghanistan's eastern border, is as alluring to outsiders as it is unwelcoming.

It's a key transit route for militants from Pakistan. But it's also been the scene of some of the fiercest fighting for U.S. troops in the 10-year war.

In a tiny outpost, Pirtle King, troops test mortars against an insurgency that is rarely seen but frequently attacks from all sides.

And further south, the road between Pirtle King and the next city is almost impassable because of the insurgency.

It was here that a U.S. unit experienced its worst losses: a roadside bomb killed four soldiers.

"When I walked up to it there was a pair of legs leaned out crossed over that were hanging out of one of the doors," remembers Lt. Ryan Petersen, with the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry. "That's always stuck with me. ... If I ever think about it at night or ever dream about it, that's the first thing that comes into my head."

Some here say they're glad that the U.S. now has a clear timetable for departure and are glad it's ending.

"My gut feeling now is that it is good. That it is time to be done," Petersen says. "I think that we've done as much as we can. We've done what we've done here and it's time to be done."

A few days after the losses here, the unit dropped $3 million in bombs in just 24 hours.

That stopped the attacks — for five days.

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Filed under: Taliban • Troops
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