It was precisely ten minutes to midnight. The moon was near full, casting its silver light across a slumbering District Centre. A moment later the stillness erupted into a deep roar as thirty-eight hulking Soviet-era trucks sparked into life. The rumbling engines began belching plumes of exhaust into the night air, shrouding the vast parking area with a choking diesel fog. In the same instant lines of waiting police pick-ups switched on their emergency lights, throwing eerie blue flashes across the gloom.

In unison, as if triggered by some unheard signal, they began pulling out onto the empty streets of the bazaar, lurching forward nose to tail. We watched in awe as the head of convoy emerged on the western side of the bazaar, its tail reaching back to the far side of the District Centre.

It was as if the streets had come to life, shuddering and growling with the passing of this mighty fleet.

Just then, the hills lit up with neon white headlights sidling down to meet the line of trucks now stretching over 2 kilometres. The US Marine escorts had arrived in their armoured trucks, and seamlessly wove themselves into the moving mass, as the police vehicles peeled off with perfect timing.

As one weaving mass, the convoy crawled across the wadi and began its torturous two-day journey back to Lash Kargah, braving IEDs and brutal desert roads to collect hundreds more tonnes of wheat seed and fertiliser for the district’s coming agricultural programme.

We were perhaps the only people who witnessed the US military, Afghan Police and these plucky civilian truck-drivers pull this off that night. It was remarkable.