Editors note: This rendition of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore was written by Task & Purpose senior reporter James Clark, who included photos he took during his 2011 deployment to Kajaki and Sangin, Afghanistan with 1st Battalion, 6th Marines.
'Twas the night before Christmas,
When all through the war zone,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a drone
Coyote brown beanies were donned with care,
In the hopes that first sergeant would not be there
On the 24th of May, dozens of Taliban leaders were congregating in a building located in the Musa Qala district of Afghanistan. The U.S. military authorized a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System strike on the meeting place, which killed at least 50 Taliban insurgents, according to U.S. military officials in Afghanistan.
In mid-November, a group of elite Taliban commandos outfitted with U.S-made assault weapons and night-vision goggles wiped out dozens of Afghan security forces in a series of brazen raids across southern and western Afghanistan. The tactics and gear utilized by the so-called Red Unit sent a wave of anxiety through U.S. and Afghan defense officials already struggling to beat back the rising tide of a Taliban resurgence since the official end of NATO combat operations in 2014.