Nightmare on Wazir Street

by Rudyard Kipling

Book cover for Nightmare on Wazir Street

This recollection of combat nightmares is dedicated to those who “stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.” A little more than a century ago, my great-great-grandfather Backsight Forethought returned to Ireland from service in the Boer War as a lieutenant in the Royal Irish Rifles. BF was, according to family oral history, something of a weird duck given to long walks and even longer conversations with himself. Most disturbing to his fellow Irishmen of the day was his tendency to refer to dreams as a guiding source in his life after his return from South Africa. Ultimately, the confining nature of Irish society, climate, and country prompted BF to emigrate from Ireland to the United States, where his ways blended in and he enjoyed greater room to roam as he murmured to himself about somebody named “Oom.” BF passed away in 1945 with his family and heirs around him. One was my great-grandfather, BF II, and another was his son, BF III, my grandfather. True to our Irish roots, we had kept alive the patrilineal heritage, naming each firstborn son after the man who brought the family to America. With that shared name came a shared but selective gift. You see, every BF since Great-Great-Grandpa BF has been guided by his dreams. BF the First chose to write a short book about his dreams in the Boer War, hoping to share his hard won insights with following generations of lieutenants facing combat for the first time. BF II said that short work helped him survive the tragedy of the trenches in WWI. BF III, just back from Europe in 1945, assured his grandfather, BF the First, that his dreams had guided him in the long march up the Italian boot. My father, BF IV, experienced the same in Vietnam. And so it has proved for me. Like my great-great-grandfather, I have chosen to recount my experiences on paper. This tale encompasses an amalgamation of events and lessons learned that took place during the Iraq phase of the Global War on Terrorism. I hope that by reading this narrative, some leader on a future battlefield will apply the basic principles illuminated through the pain of another. Nowadays it is important to remember, when making an assessment of our enemies, that the insurgent has been practicing insurgency for a few years. He is extremely smart and adaptive. Right now one of them is hard at work developing a diabolical plan to try and kill you. Remember, all the dumb insurgents are dead.

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