I promised I would look for any good news that I could find in Afghanistan, and I’ve managed to find a little.
Way up in the northern part of the country, shown in red below, some good things may just be happening.
Here is a wider scale map for reference of the major cities.
In this northern part of the country, resistance to fight the Taliban has ballooned considerably, coming from a growing militia movement and desire by civilians living in the city to retain their rights.
The report by Voice of America below was actually quite heartening. If you have one minute and fifty-three seconds, give it a quick viewing. I think it will encourage you.
I continue to think that women should be armed and locals organized into defense groups. And perhaps as Taliban forces draw closer to urban areas, the Afghan forces will fight harder. Perhaps even buttressed by local militias.
As a reminder, we saw this happen in Iraq. ISIS made huge territorial gains that almost defied description. Remember when two divisions of Iraqi soldiers — roughly 30,000 men, including tanks — surrendered to 800 ISIS fighters?
But as ISIS neared Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, their advances faltered.
Local militias joined the Iraqi units defending the capital and interior of Iraq. They did so by the hundreds, much like the video above.
And, not to make too much of an overstatement, but after this local reinforcing, the Iraqi forces began holding off (and even defeating) ISIS.
True, that was with our help and airpower, but Afghanistan continues to field a capable air force. (You can see many of their recent air strikes against the Taliban here, if you’re on Twitter.)
Back to the broader point, there’s just something about having locals nearby that strengthens and encourages military units. It’s one thing to surrender without firing a shot hundreds of miles from home, as many Afghan forces have done.
It’s quite another to surrender when your family, that girl you love, and that younger brother that looks up to you, are just a few miles down the road.
Let’s continue to hope the Afghan forces find their footing.
In other matters, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley provided a heck of a speech recently on the importance of alliances. (In a future post, I may explore this more and my own shifting views on it.)
But let’s not waste time with my thoughts on the matter. General Milley said America must have strong alliances to prevent a future, massive war.
Here are just a few of the words of Milley, whose father served as a Navy corpsman alongside the Marines that landed on Iwo Jima.
“In my view, the world is entering a period of potential instability, as some nations – not all, but some – and clearly terrorist groups and perhaps some rogue actors are seeking to undermine and challenge the existing international order. And they seek to weaken the system of cooperation and collective security that has been in existence for some time. The dynamic nature of today’s current environment is counterbalanced by an order that was put in place 76 years ago at the end of World War II. ... It was the bloodiest war in human history – there were almost 7,000 Marines killed in action, 21,000 Japanese killed in action on the island of Iwo Jima where my dad landed, and that was only in 19 days. In the short period of 31 years, from 1914 to 1945, World Wars I and II were fought among the great powers of the day, and 150 million people – 150 million around the world – were killed in the conduct of great power war.”
Milley spoke of some of the low points of the wars – a six-week period in the fall of 1918 when American expeditionary forces fought in the Battle of Meuse-Argonne and saw 26,000 Marines and soldiers killed; an eight week period in the summer of 1944 when 425,000 soldiers on both sides of the war were wounded or killed from the beaches of Normandy inland to Paris, including 37,000 allied warfighters killed in those weeks alone.
“That is the butcher’s bill of great power war. That’s what this international order that’s been in existence for seven and a half decades is designed to prevent.”
It’s pretty hard to argue with those words, so I’ll let them speak for themselves.
Finally, let’s end with a motivating quote.
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Stan R. Mitchell
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