This Week at War: A Plan to Protect
The Stream's weekly look at the sacrifices of U.S. troops and military families.
At long last, there is some good news coming out of the war zone in Afghanistan.
After pleas from combat veterans, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and news outlets including The Stream, the U.S. government finally has a plan to protect thousands of Afghan interpreters and their families.
According to ABC News, “the plan is to move these Afghans to a safe location as they wait for their U.S. visa applications to be processed.” There are about 18,000 Afghans who have applied for the required special immigrant visa, according to the network’s reporting. At least 300 interpreters have been murdered over the past seven years as retaliation by terrorist groups like the Taliban and al-Qaeda for working with U.S. troops.
Thank you to all the veterans — including my 8 Seconds of Courage co-author Flo Groberg — for speaking out and pushing lawmakers and the Biden administration to protect these selfless Afghans and their families.
Unfortunately, recent developments from the war zone aren’t all positive. ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, who I was honored to meet last month, is on the ground in Afghanistan to report on the U.S. military’s withdrawal, which is scheduled to finish by the upcoming 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
TALIBAN GAINING GROUND: With the U.S. withdrawal over halfway complete and no peace deal in place, @MarthaRaddatz is one-on-one with a Taliban elder in Afghanistan; and the alarming new images reportedly showing Afghan troops handing over their weapons. https://t.co/exAnAK6sYQ pic.twitter.com/e9LeJZAlfc
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) June 23, 2021
The Taliban is reportedly “gaining ground,” including capturing a key district in northern Afghanistan this week. The ongoing bloodshed and fall of numerous districts are sure to come up during President Joe Biden’s Friday meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the White House.
Please pray for all the brave U.S. troops and innocent Afghans in harm’s way. We ask God to watch over these patriots as America’s longest war comes to a close.
In the Middle East, ISIS is “down, but not out,” according to a U.S. military spokesman. That’s why U.S. troops are still in Syria and Iraq to support and sometimes lead combat operations aimed at destroying the terrorist group once and for all.
In Iraq, another rocket landed near a major base housing U.S. troops on Sunday. There were no reported injuries in the latest attack on Al Asad Air Base, which has been the site of numerous rocket and drone attacks throughout this year.
There are about 2,500 U.S. troops still in Iraq, as noted this week by PBS. “In the week that we’ve spent with U.S. forces, there were no fewer than six threats confirmed serious enough to sound alarms at bases with a U.S. presence across the country, and at least three of those resulted in actual strikes,” PBS NewsHour correspondent Leila Molana-Allen reported from Iraq.
The head of the coalition’s military advisor group in Iraq told PBS that the stakes are still too high to withdraw.
“You already have a bad economy, a lot of actors playing in this environment, very easily things could deteriorate to a situation where ISIS could come back,” Brig. Gen. Ryan Rideout told the network. “Disenfranchised people who are angry is a recipe for a quick return of ISIS.”
The same is true in Syria, where U.S. troops were on patrol this week with fellow coalition soldiers.
#SDF & @Coalition soldiers conduct joint security patrols in NE Syria. Maintaining routine security patrols keeps Daesh gang members suppressed. Our joint efforts, supported by Coalition airpower & intelligence, continue to quash and destroy Daesh. @cmoc_sdf @farhad_shami pic.twitter.com/tpJJzwKBAo
— OIR Spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto (@OIRSpox) June 24, 2021
“One of the most vulnerable groups are the children who deserve the opportunity to grow up in a peaceful and prosperous environment,” Col. Wayne Marotto tweeted this week. “(ISIS) seeks to indoctrinate children with its hateful ideology to be the future guardians and warriors.”
American troops are doing God’s work in some of the world’s most violent places. Lord, please shield these heroes from danger and comfort their families here at home until their loved ones safely return from war.
A U.S. Air Force pararescue team is back home after a deployment to “rescue and medically treat downed military personnel all over the world.”
Welcome home, heroes! Thank you for serving our country overseas.
Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is co-author of Three Wise Men, Brothers Forever, 8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.