From my cousin in Afghanistan. It’s a very interesting read.

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Here is a layman’s view of the war in Afghanistan, its status, and how we are doing.

When we toppled the Taliban, it was with the alliance of a number of warlords from the northern provinces who had never held much allegiance to the Taliban and they heavy-handed ways. The first successes were in the north around a place called Mazeri-Sharif, then down into Bagram and Kabul and the surrounding towns. When the A-10s first deployed to Bagram, the airfield was still a skeleton of a former Soviet base, with hulks of aircraft strewn about, surrounded by minefields, and regular snipers set on running out yet another invader. The first operations facility was the base control tower, still riddled with bullet holes from the heavy attacks of the current war and probably the war against the Soviets. The basement of the tower was rumored to be an old torture chamber, and believe me it looked and smelled the part even a few years later.

Kabul, just to the south, became the capital of NATO forces in the country, and the capital of the new government, but the real challenge
for taming of the country lie still to the south in Kandahar. There is still steady fighting in the north and along Pakistan as the border is nearly impossible to seal, but there are steady signs of prosperity and progress. Bagram is no longer the wild west, the bureaucracy is firmly in power, and Kabul is now accused more of corruption than danger. It still is not Peoria, but neither is it worse than many other cities in other parts of the world.

Kandahar is a different story, and with good reason. Kandahar was the center of the Taliban power, with the majority of the population
supporting them and wishing for their return after their fall. NATO established an airfield there, but it was still very much Indian country. Limited offensive operations to clean out the rubble were difficult slogs because of the nature of the terrain. In so much of the farmland and river valleys of Southern Afghanistan, US might and technology lose their edge because of the network of tunnels, fighting positions, irrigation canals, hedge rows, limited roads, and a local populace that isn’t sure we aren’t just another foreign invader.

The shift in the war of late has been dramatic, as the Army and Marines are getting after it, moving in force into areas previously thought too
difficult and dangerous, often on foot from house to house and from field to field with the intent of forcing the enemy to fight. The
Special Forces troops, so good at what they do, combine their guerilla warfare skills with technology at levels amazing to any who watch. They are great at block and tackle military maneuver, and are just as comfortable behind a million dollar radio or weapon as they are behind
the controls of their XBOX. And they are fearless. We as CAS pilots watch with awe at their tenacity, and are only too willing to pitch into
the fight when called upon, and hope that our presence and ordnance make a difference in the end. The conventional Army and Marine forces, along with the allied nations, are there to win and hopefully have a strategy that will get them there.

Will we win? I don’t know, as the enemy always gets a vote. And ultimately it is the Afghanis’ country, and every soldier and airman will readily give it back to them so they can govern themselves and we can spend more time with our kids and train for the next fight. But the
level of commitment to do this right–integrate the Afghans into the fight for their country, and let them know that the “norm” of tyranny
and constant submission does not have to be the norm–does not falter.

Young men and women die in this land, on hills and in fields of dust that don’t seem worth their blood because freedom matters, and those in
uniform know it.

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