Over the weekend, the Afghan National Army suffered one of its worst losses of life when unarmed soldiers leaving prayer services were ambushed by Taliban soldiers disguised as fellow Army members.
To give perspective and “eyes-on-the-ground” experience, Buck brought on Zack Asmus, a writer for SOFREP and former Air Force Combat Controller who recently completed a deployment in Afghanistan.
“This is not where you see the most complex and deadly attacks,” Buck said, referring to the Balkh Province where the attack took place.
Asmus agreed. “It’s abnormal. This is tightly controlled by the provincial government. Some of my colleagues spent time there, and told me it’s extremely safe. It’s a signal that things may be changing a little bit.”
Buck mentioned that this was the single deadliest engagement since the war began.
“And they’ve been conservative with the numbers,” said Asmus. “I’ve heard up to as many as 200 dead.”
“You just shouldn’t have a military base where 90% of people have laid down their arms,” said Asmus. “Their whole culture needs to change if they’re going to be serious about their security.”
“Tell us about that,” said Buck, “what are the basic attitudes of the soldiers that are supposed to be doing the fighting for this side?”
“You look at an Afghan Army recruit, he’s doing this for a paycheck,” Asmus replied. “For most of these guys it’s not much more than that. Their loyalty is to their small towns. They’re not joining the army for patriotic reasons. It’s hard for Americans to understand how much of a novice group these guys are. Laying down weapons, praying multiple times a day, that’s not going to stand up to the militants.”
Asmus described the constraints that were put on him as a member of the Air Force tasked with limited engagements.
“You had to watch your wording,” Asmus said. “You had to make sure there were no civilian casualties possible. You had to sit down and almost become a lawyer yourself to do your job. We’re at war, and we don’t want to be fighting with one hand behind our back.”
Buck asked if Asmus felt that the dropping of the MOAB last week was indicative of a sea change in the US’s approach.
“It gets our guys excited,” said Asmus. “Now I think they’re getting some freedom of maneuver.”
Additionally, Buck brought up the question of how and why the ISIS threat is growing.
“Now that we’ve pulled back to a few main spots, it’s pretty easy for ISIS to go into these places where they sense disloyalty and set up a training camp and go from there,” said Asmus. “I don’t know how you end this thing. There’s always going to be this movement that inspires the poor rural people to take a paycheck and fight.”
“No one wants to leave with the job half-done.”
This article and interview is courtesy the Buck Sexton Show.
Featured image courtesy of AP