I'm sure many of you join me in trying to understand what we see playing out on our TV screens nightly in Kabul. Afghanistan is known as "The Empire Killer" or "Graveyard of Empires" because major empires throughout history have been unable to conquer it; including [but not limited to] the Romans, Greeks, Huns, Mongols, Great Britain, Russia, and now the U.S. And Afghanistan was a common subject in the early days of this blog, when I tried to show God's hand in world affairs and our every day lives.
So, I was interested to see how far we've come since this article I posted in October of 2012, nearly 19 years ago. Boy, it's hard to realize that we have spent that much time, blood, money, and effort in "taming" this unbreakable fortress. And I was amazed at how many times in those years that the Taliban was also at the center of my writing. So, join me in looking back at what we, as a nation, were experiencing then....
October 1, 2012
The Khyber Pass, the Hindu Kush, Kandahar, Kabul and the Taliban .... all part of our lexicon due to a decades-long war in a country where war is almost part of their cultural identity. Afghanistan has fought some of the greatest military powers in the history of the world. Throughout its centuries of existence it has been conquered by Darius I of Persia (ca. 500 BC), Alexander the Great (330 BC), and the Mauryan Empire (part of modern-day India). The Islamic conquest in 642 AD met with fierce resistance from the various mountainous tribes, as did the Mongols and different Persian and Indian empires in the Modern Era. Nothing changed when the British and the Russians tried to subdue the peoples of this vast and difficult terrain.
I admit that the intricacies of inter-tribal relationships and control are too complex for this ordinary citizen to comprehend. But I am not so simple-minded that I cannot recognize when our nation should re-evaluate our war policy. If you are paying even the least bit of attention, you are aware that our soldiers in Afghanistan are coming under ever-increasing attacks by so-called "insiders" - supposed members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) which are partnering with coalition forces to defend their country. In fact, two more heroes lost their lives this weekend. My first thought is, "Why aren't we doing a better job of screening these insiders?" and "What are we doing to protect our military?"
I was recently directed by a faithful reader of this blog to a website that I highly recommend. It is called Michael Yon Online Magazine. According to his website bio, "Michael Yon is a former Green Beret, who has been writing from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004. No other writer has spent as much time with combat troops in these two wars. Michael’s dispatches from the frontlines have earned him the reputation as the premier independent combat journalist of his generation." Who better to give us the truth from our soldiers' perspective, right?
With that in mind, I want you to read portions of a post from last week. Michael prints a letter from a son stationed in Afghanistan to his father. Michael confirmed the authenticity of the letter, and published it with permission:
I am fed up. I cannot believe the lack of attention the recent changes in this war is receiving by the media or the country. I think I saw one thing on CNN about the following subject, but I had to dig extensively to find it. The purpose of this letter is to let you know of the garbage that our soldiers are going through right now. With this knowledge, I hope that you take action by writing your congressmen.
First, because of the recent green on blue incidents or "insider threats" as the new buzz phrase dictates, all coalition forces in Afghanistan have completely stopped partnering with the ANA, AUP, and ALP in order to prevent the death of anymore CF casualties by ANSF or Taliban disguised as them. This is also greatly spurred by President Karzi's indifferent attitude and lack of action to take measures to prevent further insider attacks.
Our mission in Afghanistan is to partner with the ANSF on all levels. Now the policy makers are telling us that we are not allowed to do that and further more we are to take immediate measures to secure ourselves from the ANSF that are co-located with us. So the question now becomes, what is our mission? Furthermore, the implication is that we have absolutely no reason to still be in this country if we are not partnering with the ANSF. So why are we here?
I don't think that the American citizens would be happy if they knew that their soldiers were being prohibited from defending themselves in any way because of politically driven orders, but that is precisely what is happening in this war right now even as I write this letter. The soldiers of the U.S. never engage the enemy unless we know that we always have the tactical advantage in defending ourselves; that advantage is the use of close air support and air weapons team. To take those weapons away from us is to level the playing field for the enemy and thus exposing our soldiers to more danger. In the school house they teach us that the minimum ratio that we are to engage the enemy with, is a 3:1 ratio. In other words, we have the highest probability of winning because we don’t fight fair. The sound tactical principles behind this teaching have saved lives. The very presence of aircraft over our foot patrols has also saved lives and now our chain of command is being told by our political leadership that this is now not allowed. If we are not partnering with the ANSF and we are not actively patrolling to prevent our enemies from massing their attacks on our COP and we can’t drop a bomb on the enemy that we have positively identified, than what the hell are we doing here?
Give us a mission or send us home. I honestly have no preference on what the politicians decide, as long as they just make a decision. Of course this will be a terrible inconvenience on the current elections so I am sure we will be forgotten, which really does not seem to be too different for how things have been going for the last eleven years.
Do not buy into what some media outlets have already said about this. Casually saying that this is a frequent occurrence is false, and is an attempt to downplay the major ramifications for these decisions. We have never been so restricted in defending ourselves as we are now. This is not just a stand down. The other implication of this decision is that we will perhaps never regain our relationship with the ANA after we have executed these measures to protect ourselves from them. Essentially, we have left them to die as we watch from our high-tech cameras and UAVs. They will not forget this and I fear the relationship will never be the same.
love you very much Dad and I don’t want you to worry about me any more
than you already are, but I also know that this has to be brought up,
someone has to say something about this. It is wrong to keep this hidden
away while American soldiers are under constant threat of death and
dying. I don’t care if you send this letter directly, this needs to be
[In Afghanistan ]
The United States of America is now involved, nine years later, in a humiliating withdrawal; leaving a nation who believed our promises to protect them from the very forces that enslaved them, the Taliban. Not only do the citizens of Afghanistan feel betrayed, but I venture, so do the American people. Freedom is the inherent right of all people, and now millions of Afghanis fear for their lives from a regime that has only shown them terror and tyranny. The American people have sacrificed their treasure (in both lives and money), believing that our leaders were waging a war that was worth the cost -- it would guarantee that the homeland would remain safe. Do we still believe that? How many of those being transported to our homeland have the destruction of America in mind? And consider this -- the same politicians who waged the war then are still in office today. They were enriched as our soldiers and the economy paid the price. And now we must ask ourselves ... for those Afghans who truly helped us, have we just given rise to a new generation who will hate America for abandoning them?
I heard a veteran of this decades-long war say on a radio program today that he didn't think Jesus could forgive him for some of the things he did and witnessed while deployed in Afghanistan. I want everyone who served to know that Jesus can forgive you of anything! Just confess, repent for your actions, and ask for forgiveness. Jesus will wash you clean! And, please forgive yourself! Most veterans fought for love of country and represented us well. The American people don't hold you accountable for this nation being at war. In fact, it is the political and military leadership who will one day have to stand before the King of Kings and answer for their motives and actions.
I know this is not the usual spirit of what I write about, but I woke in the early morning hours today talking to Jesus and in deep sorrow for what has been wasted these last 20 years. I know the Lord hates war, and He knows the truth of the decisions that have brought us to this point in time. I prayed for hours before dawn that He would deliver us from the consequences of our national pride, greed, and evil intentions. Very soon, nations will be divided into either sheep or goats. That will be a time of both reward and judgment. Yes, Scripture tells us that this will be a result of how each person and nation has treated God's chosen people, Israel. But I also fervently believe that reward and judgment will also come from our national history. We have a lot to be proud of, but there is so much we need to repent for. Father, consider our hearts; do not judge us by the actions of our leaders; and heal those whose lives have been shattered, both here and abroad. Lead us on paths of righteousness for your Name's sake -- it's the only thing that will be balm to our hurting souls and disappointed spirits.
Proverbs 6:16-19 There
are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to
him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a
heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a
false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among