Bonenberger started that book a breezy, confident, idealistic young officer, but as he came across more cruelty, waste, and corruption, started to break down, second-guessing not only the mission but himself, i.e. why he'd volunteered.
At the outset of Afghan Post Bonenberger referenced everything from the illustrated versions of The Odyssey and The Iliad he read as a kid, to All Quiet on the Western Front. But after years of head-scratching missions, circuitous contracting schemes, and lies sent down from above (and demanded in return), he seemed to realize, unpleasantly, that his experience was less Homer and more Catch-22.
He laughs some, but mostly the absurdity crushes him. A selection of passages gives a snapshot of his progression:
My life is in near-perfect harmony… This is what I've been aiming for, a sense of balance, of co-existing with the world. My job at this instant is precisely what it needs to be, no more, no less. I'm a good commander, man… Life feels correct.
We aren't here to defeat the enemy; that's impossible with our resources. We're here to occupy them, to distract them from the women wearing blue jeans in Kabul.
No matter how many rifle-bearing insurgents we kill, they only seem to increase in numbers and proficiency.
I just want to keep bashing away at the Taliban until they quit. I refuse to stop. I will break them with constant patrolling…