Helmand's Tanks and Toes

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U.S. Marine tanks prepping in Afghanistan / Marine photo

The Marines are almost ready to roll their tanks into war against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province to make the region safe for civilians. But as the tankers go about their final pre-combat prep, their doctors, according to Stars and Stripes, are confronting a disturbing aspect of that rural life:

Lt. Colin McCormack, the Navy doctor who runs the clinic at Patrol Base Jaker, looked closely under the big light at the [2-year-old] girl’s tiny, ruined feet. Third-degree burns on both soles glowed bright red. All 10 toes were gone…

He noted that the burn went all the way around one ankle, like a sock — a “circumferential” burn strongly indicating someone had held her leg in boiling liquid and that the child had not been able to recoil from the pain. “More likely than not,” McCormack said, “this was punishment.”…

“I despise these people,” said a medic who declined to be named.