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U.S. Marine Corps photo

The district’s Afghan police chief and I sat across from each other. He watched the chyron stream silently across his television screen and drummed his fingers on the desk. The interpreter leaned in to tell me it was another insider-attack news story. I looked at our security detail, wearing full kit and carrying his M4 at the low ready. The police chief, whose tribal connections to the Karzai family landed him the job, could barely fit into a uniform — when he chose to wear one. He had passed the morning, like many mornings, drinking tea, receiving guests, and indulging his drug habit. Younger men, sometimes wearing makeup, came and went from his quarters at all hours, and though we had no proof, it seemed unlikely from their sullen expressions that whatever occurred was consensual. I tried small talk to loosen up my partner, but he only grunted single syllabic responses. After a few more moments, he stood up, stretched, and padded wordlessly into his room for a nap. I was a combat advisor, he was my assigned partner, and this was a typical day in 2012.

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