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Driving defensively

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Montvale native escorted convoys in Afghanistan

By John Barnhart

    The convoy escort team that Staff Sergeant Joshua Carter led in Afghanistan had a lot of challenges. In addition to the Taliban, the roads themselves were hazardous. The roads were narrow and the road surfaces were often in bad shape due to lack of maintenance and combat damage. Furthermore, there were no guardrails. In some places, going off the road would have meant tumbling down a mountainside. These were also very busy roads with lots of traffic.

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    Then, there were Afghan drivers.
    “There are really no driving laws there that I could think of,” Carter said in a phone interview. “It was the Wild West. They drive how they want to, basically.”
    “We had a few trucks run into by civilian vehicles,” he added. “It didn’t damage our vehicles. We just sent a report and moved on.”
    Carter, a Montvale native and 2001 Liberty High School graduate returned from his third combat tour last fall. His first two were in Iraq. He served as a member of the 359th Inland Cargo Transfer Company.
    “Our mission there was convoy escort,” he said, noting that this was a unique job for this company. The company would normally run a cargo yard, handling cargo, loading trucks and coordinating convoys. Most of the men are cargo specialists, rather than truck drivers.
    However, they are also flexible and they ended up driving MRAPs. This stands for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected. They are enormous, specially built armored trucks, which is why being hit by a civilian vehicle didn’t hurt them, and they served as the company’s gun trucks as they escorted con