As we rambled back down under the noonday sun, exhausted and thirsty, plucking apricots, almonds and mulberries off the trees, I remembered the Afghans I’d met complaining about Americans pillaging their harvest. It wasn’t hard to see how a few apricots could transmute into theft or how speaking to a woman after you have rounded up all the men could transmute into “Americans are abusing our women.” One afternoon, I had a car accident in Zabul. Within minutes, some 100 men pulled over and began heaving the wreck out of the ditch. As I crouched in the dirt wrapped in a tentlike Kuchi shawl, not a single man glanced my way. Rather, they asked my wounded translator if his wife was O.K. Someone must have sensed a foreigner, however, because 10 minutes after we left for the hospital, the Taliban showed up. They pummeled the driver, demanding to know what happened to the foreigner. He lied and saved his life. But that moment, when not one person glanced my way, offered a window into how seriously they abide by rules that are utterly alien to a 19-year-old American soldier. Sturek constantly struggled with pushing “cultural sensitivity” down the chain of command. It was nearly impossible.