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“It only added to the allure of this shimmering fantasy land in the desert [Nellis Air Force Base] that it was one of the most dangerous places on Earth. Rarely did a week go by that a fighter pilot did not crash. And when a fighter crashed at 400 knots, it was for keeps. When a pilot ‘augered in’, ‘screwed the pooch’, ‘fucked the duck’, and ‘bought the farm’, then the base siren wailed and the blue car drove slowly and wives stood in the windows and the Chaplin consoled and the flag hung at half staff. But it always happened to someone else, never to the best fighter pilot in the world. And if you have to ask who the best is, it sure as hell ain't you.”

Robert Coram
Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

Tom Bishop: “Ah, Jesus Christ, you just... You don't just trade these people like they're baseball cards! It's not a fucking game!”

Nathan Muir: “Oh yes it is. It's exactly what it is. And it's no kid's game either. This is a whole other game. And it's serious and it's dangerous. And it's not one you want to lose.”

Robert Redford as Nathan Muir to Brad Pitt as Tom Bishop in Spy Game, 2001

“After Vietnam and the stinging Washington scandals of the 1970's many [CIA] case officers feared local political entanglements, especially in violent covert operations. Many of them had vowed after Vietnam that there would be no more CIA-lead quixotic quests for Third World hearts and minds. In Afghanistan, they said, the CIA would stick to its legal authority: mules, money, and mortars. For many in the CIA the Afghan Jihad was about killing Soviets first and last. [CIA officer Howard] Hart even suggested that the Pakistanis put a bounty out on Soviet soldiers: 10,000 rupees for a Special Forces soldier, 5,000 for a conscript, and double in either case if the prisoners were brought in alive. This was payback for Soviet aid to the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, and for many CIA officers who had served in that war it was personal.”

Steve Coll
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001