Every day students walk down the halls, laughing and making plans for the weekend, many not even realizing that thousands of miles away, American soldiers are fighting for their lives.
Although the conflict in Afghanistan is not an officially declared war, people still lose their lives every day. October was a challenging month and proved to be the deadliest for American soldiers since the start of the conflict.
On Oct. 26, 14 soldiers died in a helicopter crash, bringing the month’s total to 58 American fatalities. It has also been a challenge for the Obama administration after a request was made to send 40,000 more troops into Afghanistan, a decision they are not taking lightly.
“We shouldn’t add troops because we have enough troops as it is, but I don’t think we should pull out either because Afghanistan still needs our support,” said freshman Andy Riddle. Currently, there are about 68,000 servicemen and women from the U.S. fighting in the conflict.
AHS is a home to students who have family members that inhabit Afghanistan and have lived in the dangerous war zone.
“Sometimes I worry that my family might die in the bombings,” sophomore Ziya Jahangir said. “After the Russian war our country has gone into turmoil. Our country has lost many agricultural assets to bombings. I think it’s the Americans fault for getting involved seeing as they left weapons in Afghanistan after the Cold War.”
To add more complications to this war, Afghanistan has a remote, mountainous and desert terrain, which makes armed combat extremely difficult for those who are not familiar with the environment.
According to the BBC, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former national security advisor, has stated that if we stay in Afghanistan, the U.S. “risks Afghan Soviet failure.” The former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and stayed until 1989 with no success. Only time will tell if the U.S. comes up with strategies to avoid this predicament.
In a speech made at a Florida Naval Base last month, President Obama addressed the present servicemen and women by saying, “I won’t risk your lives unless it is absolutely necessary.”
Sadly, there have been lives lost that have affected members of the AHS community. History teacher Gregory Commons is one of many Americans who have suffered a personal tragedy because of this war. In an e-mail interview he talked to the A-Blast about the death of his son. Matthew Commons was a member of an Army Ranger QRF (Quick Reaction Force) and was part of Operation Anaconda on March 4, 2002.
“Matt understood his mission. In fact, the week before he shipped out to Afghanistan he was home on leave. In several conversations he and I had before leaving he spoke about what happened on 9/11 and the potential deployment overseas,” Commons said. “At the time, he wasn’t permitted to talk about where he was being deployed to, but we both knew without saying that he was headed for Afghanistan.”
The younger Commons was told of a Navy Seal who had been captured by opposing forces, and agreed to rescue his fellow serviceman. He was killed on that very mission when he came under enemy fire. “I’m proud of what he did. He died trying to save someone else’s life,” Commons said of his son.
Though the death of a child is a tragedy no parent wants to face, he uses his son’s death as a lesson to educate the students of AHS. For the past five years or so, he has given a presentation about the situation in Afghanistan around the anniversary of his son’s death.
“It’s vitally important,” said Commons. “If people don’t understand the purpose of our troops being in Afghanistan, it’s difficult to maintain public support for our mission. Ignorance can be potentionally dangerous.”
Commons, has kept a close eye on the situation. “I believe that we need to complete the mission we started eight years ago. This requires that we provide the Afghani people with a stable, democratically elected government and the necessary security forces to maintain that government. We also need to effectively train Afghani forces so that eventually they will be able to assume responsibility themselves.”
BBC reports that in the early hours of Oct. 29, President Obama visited the Dover Air Force Base to honor the 14 fallen soldiers from the helicopter crash and meet their family members as their bodies were delivered from Afghanistan.
The Obama administration continues to debate the complex issues at hand involving Afghanistan, and the visit to Dover was to help remind them of the effect this conflict has on the American people.