By 11 a.m., the temperature had climbed to a humid 100 degrees that soaked the soldiers' uniforms with sweat and summoned a nagging thirst. In a few minutes, Gerhart and Sgt. Adam Lachance, the platoon's forward observer, whose job was to coordinate rocket and bomb runs from helicopter gunships and jet fighters, would lead a dozen of the new soldiers through the nearby fields and orchards to find and kill the men who had been shooting at them in the compound all morning. Gerhart and his squad mates huddled over a map and plotted possible patrol routes. "It doesn't matter which way we go," he said, "because we're going to get in a firefight, and we're not going to get far." He gathered the 101st soldiers. "I need you to have your game faces on," he said. "This is what we do here every day. Welcome to the Arghandab." The soldiers stared back, silent.
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