A Stars & Stripes reporter described a recent battle in southern Afghanistan at a place named Bagram. American forces advanced into the area with the assistance of Afghan soldiers, but as the battle ensued, it became clear to the Americans that their allies in the fight were simply not first class troops. The US commander could not even completely share the plan with Afghan officers for fear one of them would reveal the information to the Taliban. As US forces entered a village, an elder told them: “we are Taliban. The Taliban is our government. Do not expect us to cooperate with you. An honest statement, and unfortunately, an accurate one. The people of Afghanistan simply do not consider themselves as part of the government of the country. As American soldiers began the battle they were surprised at the intensity of the enemy’s fire, and their determination not to quickly retreat, but to hold their ground. At first, the Afghan soldiers fought well, even though their ability as soldiers did not equal that of the Taliban or their American allies.
After a few hours, Afghan wounded were evacuated and as they left so did most of the Afghan soldiers leaving the Americans to stand alone against the Taliban. President Obama expects US forces to begin leaving next year. Unfortunately, the Americans can not stand down from the fighting until Afghan soldiers stand up to the task. And, that will not quickly arrive.