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
In Afghanistan’s Baraki Barak district on October 25, Afghan veterinarians braved Taliban intimidation to partner up with the U.S. Army in providing free vet care to the district’s farmers and herders. But it was the military vets at Bagram air base, outside Kabul, that had the closest brushes with death.
Check out the photo. The dent in the side of the pickup truck, belonging to Bagram’s vet team, is from a rocket that some insurgent fired over the Bagram air base wall. The round struck the truck, shattering some windows, ruining the door and injuring the occupants. But it didn’t explode.
The incident reminded me of the BBC’s “Basra truck.” The British broadcaster had outfitted a vehicle with satellite transmission gear to support rotating correspondents. One night as the truck was parked at the main British base at the Basra airport, an insurgent rocket or mortar exploded next to it, peppering the vehicle with shrapnel holes. Luckily, no one was inside at the time.
The moral? Rockets and mortars are inaccurate and a mere nuisance, until they’re not.
(Photo: David Axe)
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