In Harm’s Way
In this 17th year of the war in Afghanistan, we Americans express thanks to the troops, the question is for what?
Two days ago, at least 55 people were killed and 94 injured in a suicide bombing in the capital, Kabul, during an event “commemorating the birth anniversary of the prophet Muhammad,” according to the Washington Post.
In 2018, it is reported that the Afghan government, backed by the U.S., controls barely 50% of the country.
In-country U.S. casualties include some 2,372 killed and about 20,320 wounded.
But, the full story is much more complicated than that.
There is increasing awareness of the heavy toll that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder takes on troops and their families.
Military.com writes that the “Veteran’s Administration says there are 20.6 suicides every day. Of those, 16.8 were veterans and 3.8 were active-duty servicemembers, guardsmen and reservists, the report states. That amounts to 6,132 veterans and 1,387 servicemembers who died by suicide in one year.”
If even a small portion of these suicides is related to Afghan deployments, the death count is many more than 2,372.
News reports suggest that the Tuesday attack in Kabul may have been perpetrated by ISIS and not the Taliban, meaning that Coalition Forces now have to worry about an ascendant Islamic State, too.
That means that our troops now face (at least) three enemies: Taliban, ISIS — and fellow Afghan troops.
The Center for Security Policy reports that since July of 2017, there have been 96 “green-on-blue” attacks where Afghan troops turn on Coalition Forces with devastating consequences.
In the 1950’s, during the disastrous French war in Algeria, the Governor-General there, Jacques Soustelle, fearing for the moral of the troops, famously reminded his fellow French citizens that it would be a catastrophe if those “who get themselves killed [have] a feeling that France has no gratitude for them.”
France, of course, went on to lose the war, leaving Algeria to the Algerians.
Of course, on this Thanksgiving, especially, both thanks and gratitude are due to those who serve, but perhaps the real thanks would be to ask Congress if the price is worth the constant toll of blood and pain?