IN PURSUIT OF FREEDOM

AFGHAN WAR

For an outsider and a citizen of a third world country, at that, I cannot be able to thank much the U.S. forces and its coalition partners for leading the fight and willingly giving up their lives in pursuit of freedom for the Afghan people.

As in Iraq, the Afghan war is getting nastier and going badly. A certain measure of fanaticism has set in and a high degree of organization and coordination have been observed by the manner attacks by suicide bombers and gunmen are carried out.

What has taken a toll also on the many lives of soldiers and their equipment are the roadside bombs or what are better known as Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).

But the commitment and the resolve to free this country from the grip of terror by the Talibans on the hapless, freedom- loving Afghan people has never been as strong and as determinedly pursued after as it is now.

Would the U.S. forces and its allies be fighting the same way as they first went into Afghanistan, eight years ago, to combat against al-Qaeda?

Would they be still following the same path where after eight long years, more than 1,200 coalition troops have died; over 720 of the dead were Americans, but other nations have suffered too? They do not encompass the thousands of Afghan villagers who have been killed by their own people in the Taliban or by errant coalition actions or retaliations, mostly from air strikes.

Thanks to President Barack Obama and his generals, innovative strategies are being hatched and new principles are being underscored. It is hoped that with these new courses of action, the beginning of the end of the war in Afghanistan will start taking place.

While they may be augmenting the number of troops from 85,000 to 134,000 in the next two years or so, what is going to be the priority is to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people so that hatred and animosity will not flourish against the U.S. forces and its allies.

This will be done by limiting the use of force like close air support against residential compounds and other locations likely to produce civilian casualties. “Protecting the Afghan people over killing insurgents” is how newly installed commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, emphasizes it.

Terrorism and the illicit opium trade funding in large measure the Taliban have flourished because of lack of economic structures as well as government institutions.

Towards that end, Gen. McChrystal intends to make sure that building government institutions, creating economic development, providing work for the people and providing the rule of law will succeed.

While fighting will still continue, no mistaking about it, the U.S. and its coalition forces will now have enough troops to make sure that, simultaneously, progress in governance could be achieve as some soldiers are tasked to bring security to where it is needed for political and economic stability.

Whether this new military policy will succeed or not depends a lot on how soon they can convert Afghanistan’s poppy field into more viable cash crop farms or the kind of political as well as economic structure that will be instituted to help the nation march to progress.

But for sure, it will also depend much upon the number of lives sacrificed.

Hope the limit will not be stretched too far that this country may find itself being thrown to the dogs at the end.

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