In April, the NRA received an e-mail from Capt. Arslan Chaudhry of Task Force Warrior in Bagram, Afghanistan, asking if it would consider sponsoring a 5K Race to honor the memory of two Task Force soldiers who had been killed in action.
NRA Executive Director of General Operations Kayne Robinson agreed and approved the project, which was supported by the Missouri Valley Arms Collectors Ass’n, NRAblog.com and NRA Publications. A number of e-mails and online forms later, I found myself standing in an active war zone. It was not an entirely unfamiliar situation. I had previously written a similar report on the war in Iraq for American Rifleman (“Rifleman At War: Iraq 2003”).
Covering the race for NRAblog.com was relatively easy, leaving me ample time to report on the arms and equipment of the U.S. military for American Rifleman. At Bagram Air Field (BAF) I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit with Task Forces Warrior and Gladius, as well as the Special Forces unit at Camp Vance, elements of the 38th Infantry Division and the Missouri Army National Guard.
It was evident from the stories told to me by the troops and from what I personally saw that the U.S. Army is still the best-equipped and most formidable fighting force on Earth. I was heartened to meet NRA members wherever I went, and I was proud to hand out some of the NRA’s special military challenge coins by North West Territorial Mint as well as the complete inventory of coins my colleagues had assembled to commemorate my 20th anniversary as an NRA employee.
I did notice one stark difference in the reception I received from NRA members while “in country.” Back in 2003, I often asked soldiers, “What can I and the NRA do for you?” and I received similar answers: “Send us care packages of American Rifleman and American Hunter, etc ... .” This time the answer was universally different and, after hearing the same reply nearly a dozen times, I began to notice a common theme. Their the reply to that same question was, “We will keep up the fight over here. Please keep up the fight for us at home. We do not want to return to something less than what we left.”...