During the peak years of the Afghanistan War, a group of soldiers is dropped by helicopter into the remote mountains outside of Kandahar City. Mismanaged and overlooked by command, how they survive is largely up to them. In the birthplace of the Taliban, some men lose their sanity, others their humanity. They are The Hooligans. Written in the months and years following his deployment, Joseph Kassabian recounts his time in the isolated and dangerous country of Afghanistan. Pulling no punches, The Hooligans of Kandahar is a sobering, saddening, and often sarcastic first-hand account of America's War on Terror.
I was lying on my back with a cheap cigarette in my mouth in the hot Texas sun waiting for a massive convoy of school buses. That was the army’s chosen transportation method to shuttle all of us to the airport. The young soldiers were yapping all around me; excited about getting to go fight in a war, but a lot of it was uncertainty and fear.
I call them young, but I was only twenty-two. When you’ve been in the army since you were seventeen and had been bouncing around the world for your most formative years, you tend to age a little faster than the regular populous. Soldiers joked that we aged in dog years. My aching joints didn’t make it feel like much of a joke, though.
We were waiting in an expansive field with all of our bags piled up in front of us. Soldiers’ families milled about hanging off their kid, husband, or whoever was about to go to Afghanistan. My family wasn’t there. I didn’t want them to be. It just seemed all so weird and awkward.
So we all stood baking in the hot sun. Never mind the only reason we were there so early was that no one in our chain of command knew when the buses were supposed to show up.
God forbid a group of leaders who were expected to take this unit into combat could figure out how to wrangle a few fucking school buses together on time. So you and your family members just sat there and waited.
What are you supposed to talk about in that hours-long span you waited to get shipped away?
“I really hope you don’t die, son.”
“Awe, thanks, Pa.”
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