Unfriendly Fire

This week, Guernica‘s got a feature up about the US military’s flaming trash pits in Afghanistan. After all, “There are more than 100,000 troops currently deployed in Afghanistan—and thousands more private contractors—and the Department of Defense estimates that each soldier and contractor generates about ten pounds of solid waste per day,” and they’ve got to do something with it. Who could possibly be harmed by burning it?

Early last year, MoJo did a story on how the toxic smoke from these conflagrations of everything from electronics to human feces could be killing otherwise perfectly healthy American soldiers. And as Guernica‘s thorough rundown of the environmental and human impacts shows, nothing has changed. It’s heartbreaking, not just for the deaths and the senselessness, but for the Army’s unwillingness or inability to deal with the longstanding problem. Sure, it’s tough for a country to just pull out of a war, stop a war, fix all the problems a war caused. But it has somewhat more control over setting giant piles of poison on fire and making its soldiers and any nearby civilians breathe the fumes, no?