It was a war we thought we’d won. But after eight years of escalating violence, the Afghanistan conflict has morphed into something perhaps unwinnable. U.S.-led forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to deny sanctuary to Al Qaeda, a goal we’ve largely achieved. But in years of occupation, Washington has apparently conflated counter-terrorism with nation-building. Now the U.S., NATO and their allies are struggling to destroy a deeply-rooted insurgency in country with a corrupt, ineffective government, poor infrastructure and few prospects for everyday people, but to fight. David Axe visits U.S. forces to see for himself.
by DAVID AXE
Bagram air base has a garbage dump. The dump attracts birds. The birds get sucked into jet engines and can cause crashes. So the Air Force has hired several Afghan farmers, who use birds of prey to scare off their own nuisance birds, to patrol the garbage dump.
The raptors are so mean, I watched them attack their handlers for no good reason.
The Smithsonian Institution, hearing about the raptor program, asked if the Air Force wouldn’t mind sending in some of the dead birds’ carcasses. Apparently, the world doesn’t know much about Afghan bird species. As a bonus, the Air Force’s efforts to protect its planes just might help advance aviary science.
(Photo: David Axe)