This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri September 12th 2018. If you would like to see the current articles as they are published, you may subscribe to The Belle Banner by calling 573-859-3328, or email tcnpub3@gmail.com, or mail to The Belle Banner, PO Box 711, Belle, MO 65013. Subscription rates are; Maries, Osage, and Gasconade County = $23.55 per year, elsewhere in Missouri = $26.77, outside Missouri = $27.00, and foreign countries = $40.00.
Yesterday was September 11th, seventeen years ago, on September 11th, the United States of America suffered the worst attack since Pearl Harbor. The world watched 3000 people dying on live television as the twin towers of the World Trade Center came down. The attack was planned and executed by Muslims who believe that killing anyone not Muslim, particularly Christians, and particularly Americans, is a heroic thing to do which will be rewarded by Allah in heaven. Our intelligence community identified Osama Bin Laden, living in Afghanistan, as the mastermind behind the attack. Osama Bin Laden was the head of an organization called Al Qaeda, which was created to fight the Russians during their occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, then turned into a pure terrorist organization whose goal was to first eliminate all non-Muslims from the Arab world then create a Muslim world under Sharia law.
Al Qaeda are considered to be the most extreme practitioners of Sharia law and know no boundaries. Their goal is world domination under Islam. The Taliban, which took control of Afghanistan in 1996 are more local, but also more extreme. Under Taliban law women must be completely covered outside the home, they cannot go out alone, they cannot be educated past age eight, they cannon work outside the home. They cannot speak to an unrelated male unless a blood related male is present, and marriages are arranged. There were incidents of women found by themselves and executed on the spot by Taliban soldiers.
After the September 11, 2001 attack, the US Government and the UN Security Council ask the Afghanistan Government (the Taliban) to hand over Osama Bin Laden and others involved in the attack. They refused. On October 7th 2001 we invaded Afghanistan with US and British bombing runs and one 12 man Special Forces team. The Taliban government was toppled, and a US-backed government was created. The Taliban continued to fight a vicious guerilla war with small arms, rockets, mortars, IED’s (improvised explosive devices), and suicide bombers willing to strap bombs on themselves and blow up themselves and anyone close. We kind of “held our own” in Afghanistan until the Iraq war started winding down and more troops could be committed to combat in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan did not have an army, the only resemblance of military had been the Taliban. On December 1st 2002 the new President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, issued a decree establishing an army. The first problem was finding recruits. Afghanistan is a hard country, steep mountains with very few roads. Our soldiers found that many people in the remote villages had never been outside their local area. They didn’t know what a government was, their guidance had come from the village chief and councils, and most did not read or write. So trying to recruit young Afghanistan men to create an army was a long arduous process. The Taliban simply told them; “Join us or we will kill you and your family.” Green Berets of the 3rd Special Forces Group were given the task of training the start of the Afghanistan Army. Today the Afghanistan National Army has around 200,000 soldiers and the Afghanistan Air Force has about 100 airplanes and 5,000 troops. The previous administration pushed turning Afghanistan over to the Afghanistan Armed Forces so we could leave. The current administration appears to be of the same mindset but with no time table and a more forceful approach to defeating the Taliban. Our troops were recently given the OK to “actively engage” in combat instead of just advising, which they have been doing officially since 2014. The Taliban have reacted with increased attacks on Afghan and US forces.
After 17 years, over 2,400 US soldiers killed in action, and over 20,000 wounded, we are not finished. On Sunday, September 2nd 2018 there was a change of command ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan. General John W Nicholson, who has commanded NATO forces in Afghanistan for the past 30 months, longer than any predecessor, turned the command over to General Austin Scott Miller. General Nicholson was selected for that job because he had more in-depth knowledge of and time in Afghanistan than any other general. During General Nicholson’s time in command the Afghan Army increased and improved, he dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in existence on a Taliban headquarters, and negotiated a cease fire, which the Taliban observed, albeit short it was observed. In his farewell address, General Nicholson called for an end to the war. He called on the Taliban to stop killing their fellow Afghan’s and come to the table. General Nicholson is 61, I suspect that he will retire.
General Miller has been a spook, a special operations soldier, for most of his career. He was a Team Commander in the Delta Force in the early engagements in Afghanistan in 2001. Before assuming this command he was Commander of the US Joint Special Operations Command. NATO forces in Afghanistan total 16,000, of which 8,475 are American. General Miller is 57, and will probably have a different approach to the Taliban. We’ll see.
. I have seen Afghanistan compared with Vietnam, i.e., a long drawn out, never ending war. There may be a few similarities, but very few. We went to Vietnam to stop a Communist takeover. That war wasn’t lost on the battlefield, it was lost in the halls of Washington, DC. It has been estimated that about two million people were executed after we pulled out. Many were my friends. That has left a forever hole in my being, which has caused me to change the way I look at politics and government.
We went into Afghanistan to get Osama Bin Laden and his crew and found ourselves trying to stand up a country so it can defend itself, including forces from within. Afghanistan is a Muslim country, its official title is The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Converting from Islam to Christianity is against the law punishable, if not recanted, by death. Whatever we gain in Afghanistan, we will never change it. If we leave a modern peaceful country, it will still be against the law to be a Christian there. So I have mixed emotions about Afghanistan. We’ve spent blood there and we hate to leave a project unfinished, but is it going to be better after we leave?

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