"That's when they say, 'Maybe this isn't for me'"

For the first time in his life, Kevin was defending against invasion by a better-equipped enemy. He, not the enemy, was the one who had to worry about airstrikes. There was no master plan, no air support — and there would be no evacuation in case of disaster.

“It was like a movie,” he says. “It was insanity from the start. We started taking indirect fire driving in — small arms fire driving in. And I was in a pickup truck, just driving down the street.”

“There’s tanks, and above us there’s helicopters. And you can hear the Russian jets flying by. And out in the open fields the Russians were dropping troops off in helicopters. And so you’re like: ‘Woah, wow!’ It’s a lot.”

Kevin and his colleagues were on the receiving end of artillery fire. During battles in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria, these foreign soldiers were calling in the air strikes and artillery bombardments. They’d never known was it was like on the receiving end.

Kevin says that, faced with the reality of battle, many foreign fighters decided to leave. “That’s when they say, ‘Maybe this isn’t for me.’ The first time that round comes in within 20 meters is the first time you’re like, ‘Oh, sh*t,'” he said.

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