Dying while building for others.
A new report from the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR) shows that the human cost of the war in Afghanistan wasn’t limited to U.S. soldiers engaged in combat.
“At least 284 Americans were killed in Afghanistan while performing reconstruction or stabilization missions,” according to the new SIGAR report specially focused on the human cost of the reconstruction effort. “This includes 216 U.S. service members and 68 U.S. civilians (government employees, contractors, and those with unknown statuses). An additional 245 service members and 76 civilians were wounded.”
While the loss of soldiers in any form of warfare is tragic, it’s truly unsettling to find that so many soldiers and American civilians died working on urban renewal projects for a nonexistent nation-state on behalf of a corrupt government.
In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, laid bare the myth of the Afghan military as a worthy cause for American interests. “The Afghan military — and particularly the Afghan police — has been a hopeless nightmare and a disaster,” said the inspector, who has been the lone voice exposing the Afghan fraud for years.
Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee earlier this week, Sopko noted how every time things deteriorate with the Afghan government and military, the Pentagon moved to classify the information so it’s off-limits to public scrutiny. “Every time we find something that looks like it’s going negative, it gets classified. … Most of the [methods] of measuring success are now classified,” he said Tuesday before the Senate panel.
This is the state of the failed mission so many people are dying for. In addition to the 284 who have died from reconstruction efforts, according to SIGAR, 245 U.S. soldiers and 76 civilian workers were injured. These casualties are all for the reconstruction efforts and don’t include the tens of thousands who were killed or injured during combat and counter-terrorism missions, such as patrols, raids, and ambushes.
According to the report, 59 American service members were killed and another 49 wounded from insider attacks while engaging in reconstruction activities. Hundreds more have been killed in ambushes in combat-related activities by the very soldiers they are training. The latest are two special forces soldiers – Sgt. Javier Jaguar Gutierrez and Sgt. Antonio Rey Rodriguez – who were killed last weekend in the far east of the country when soldiers they were training led them into a Taliban ambush.
Bizarrely, rather than voting on a new mission or withdrawing from a war with an enormous human and fiscal toll, the Senate passed a war powers resolution on Thursday to curtail Trump’s authority to combat Iran in a war that is nonexistent. Eight Republicans joined with every Democrat to pass the resolution 55-45.
Democrats are right to be concerned that 100 soldiers wound up being injured in Iraq from the Iran missile attack launched in retaliation for the killing of Qassem Soleimani. However, that is a reason to pull out of Iraq, so that we are not sitting ducks for Iran while we are propping up a government in Baghdad that is allied with Iran.
As I reported in January, most of these very same members voted for a defense authorization bill last December that continues to authorize our military and diplomatic missions all over Iraq. What do they want from the president? To keep them there but not to defend them? All but four Democrats supported that bill, yet they want to tie the hands of the president in defending a mission they keep greenlighting.
When one GOP member offered an amendment to clarify that the president can use force to “defend U.S. territories, citizens, or personnel at military bases and diplomatic facilities or to restrict missions related to force protection of U.S. aircraft, ships, or personnel,” it was defeated, 51-49, with GOP Sens. Collins, Lee, Moran, and Paul joining the Democrats.
Also, so many of the members who voted for this resolution absolutely savaged Trump for pulling out of an undeclared war in Syria. What gives? They oppose a pullout from Syria, are silent on Afghanistan and Iraq, but want to tie his hands from deterring the one enemy that harms our interests the most? Besides, Trump has already made it clear that he has no interest in getting involved with Iran on the ground as we did in other countries and that regime change is up to the people of Iran.
Clearly, this is all about virtue-signaling and appeasing Iran. This has nothing to do with national security, the safety of our soldiers, or concern for congressional input in unaccountable wars. If that were true, Mr. Sopko’s voice wouldn’t be so lonely sounding the alarm on Afghanistan for so long.
Recently, Trump has expressed his desire to pull out from Afghanistan altogether. Watch for Senate Democrats once again take the other side of the war issue and suddenly demand that he not end a war without Congress.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.