Category : War in Afghanistan

NYT Front Page–When the Wife of a Soldier Hears a Knock at the Door

Nothing could have prepared her for April 8, a Saturday, when she returned from a soccer practice and heard a knock at their home at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Mrs. De Alencar was upstairs. Her daughter Tatiyana, 13, shouted that two uniformed men were at the door, “like in the movies, when they knock on the door when something bad has happened.”

Mrs. De Alencar knew why the soldiers had come. “I couldn’t get down the steps. My body just froze,” she recalled.

When she was told that Mark was dead, she said haltingly, “it was the worst feeling in the world.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

(NBC) Powerful+Heartwarming-A Marine Who Lost His Legs In Afghanistan Graduates from Police Acadmy

Posted in Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Police/Fire, War in Afghanistan

(NYT) Taliban Close to Overtaking Afghan Provincial Capital, Officials Say

Taliban insurgents on Thursday were on the verge of overrunning the southern city of Tirin Kot, the capital of Oruzgan Province, Afghan officials and local elders said.

Dost Mohammad Nayab, a spokesman for the governor of Oruzgan, said that all security posts around the city had been overrun by the Taliban and that the insurgents had started firing on the police headquarters and the governor’s compound.

“The security forces are engaged with the Taliban inside the city, and fighting is ongoing,” Mr. Nayab said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology, Violence, War in Afghanistan

(FP) Stephen Walt-the Collapse of the Liberal World Order

When matters didn’t go quite so smoothly, and when some groups in these liberal societies were in fact harmed by these developments, a degree of backlash was inevitable. It didn’t help that elites in many liberal countries made some critical blunders, including the creation of the euro, the invasion of Iraq, the misguided attempt to nation-build in Afghanistan, and the 2008 financial crisis. These and other mistakes helped undermine the legitimacy of the post-Cold War order, open the door to illiberal forces, and left some segments of society vulnerable to nativist appeals.

Efforts to spread a liberal world order also faced predictable opposition from the leaders and groups who were directly threatened by our efforts. It was hardly surprising that Iran and Syria did what they could to thwart U.S. efforts in Iraq, for example, because the George W. Bush administration had made it clear these regimes were on its hit list, too. Similarly, is it that hard to fathom why Chinese and Russian leaders find Western efforts to spread “liberal” values threatening, or why they have taken various steps to forestall them?

Liberals also forgot that successful liberal societies require more than the formal institutions of democracy. They also depend on a broad and deep commitment to the underlying values of a liberal society….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, Iraq War, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(W Post) What happens when the military chaplain is shaken by war

The pre-war Pastor Matthew Williams had gone to seminary, was ordained and thought he understood why people suffer. “God allows suffering because this world is temporary,” is how he would have put it.

Then came two deployments as an Army chaplain, one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. Williams spent a year in an Afghanistan morgue unzipping body bags and “seeing your friends’ faces all blown apart.” He watched as most of the marriages he officiated for fellow soldiers fell apart. He felt the terror of being the only soldier who wasn’t armed when the mortars dropped and bullets flew.

This Memorial Day weekend, Williams is no longer an active-duty military chaplain nor a United Church of Christ minister. He is a guitar player on disability whose outlook on God, religion and suffering was transformed by post-traumatic stress.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq War, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theodicy, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(LA Times) Outgoing U.S. commander in Afghanistan warns of worsening security

The outgoing commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan warned Congress on Tuesday that security there will deteriorate further from a resurgent Taliban unless the U.S. military makes a long-term commitment to stay.

Army Gen. John F. Campbell, who has led the international force since August 2014, said the Afghan military is “uneven and inconsistent” on the battlefield and is beset by corruption. He said the central government in Kabul probably won’t be able to fully defend itself until the 2020s.

The warning is the latest from a U.S. military officer that suggests the Pentagon wants to reconsider President Obama’s plan to cut the current U.S. deployment of 9,800 military advisors and Special Operations troops in half by the time he leaves office.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(LA Times) Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says attack on hospital was a mistake

Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told Congress on Tuesday that the deadly U.S. airstrike on a civilian hospital in Kunduz was a mistake, but he declined to endorse calls for an outside investigation.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Campbell said the hospital was “mistakenly struck” and that the decision to carry out the attack was made through the U.S. military chain of command.

Campbell thus offered a further refinement of previous Pentagon claims. On Monday, he told reporters that Afghan forces had called in the airstrike. The Pentagon initially had said the attack by an AC-130 gunship was ordered to protect U.S. forces on the ground.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies

(Readers are cautioned about the difficult content in this–KSH.

In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence, War in Afghanistan

(Washington Post) David Petraeus: ISIS isn’t the biggest problem in Iraq

The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011. The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. [They] alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment.

The tragedy is that political leaders failed so badly at delivering what Iraqis clearly wanted ”” and for that, a great deal of responsibility lies with Prime Minister Maliki.

As for the U.S. role, could all of this have been averted if we had kept 10,000 troops here? I honestly don’t know. I certainly wish we could have tested the proposition and kept a substantial force on the ground.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby's sermon at the Afghanistan service this past Friday

As our nation honours at this service all of you who served in Afghanistan ”“ forces personnel and many others, alongside so many of other nations ”“ I ask you to hear those same words today, reverberating around our land: great is your faithfulness. You know about faithfulness.

Today is a moment for us to say thank you: thank you to all who served, whatever your role.

We thank you for your faithfulness: you who left family behind, you who trained hard, you who did not turn from danger, you who suffered injury and you who risked yourselves to care for the injured. I’m told that each wounded person was supported by up to 80 others by the time they got home. Great is your faithfulness.

We also thank those of you who stayed behind, who let your loved ones go

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, War in Afghanistan

(PA) Royal Family to honour Afghan war veterans in a special service at Saint Paul's Cathedral today

Armed Forces charity bosses believe the full impact of the Afghanistan conflict is “yet to be seen” as the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and senior members of the Royal Family prepare for a service of commemoration at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Cambridge, his heavily-pregnant wife Kate, and Prince Harry – who served two tours during the conflict – will also attend tomorrow’s ceremony, held to mark the end of combat operations in the country, honour veterans of the campaign and remember the servicemen and women who lost their lives.

The families of some of those killed will also take part in the commemorations and v eterans of the 13-year campaign will march past the cathedral in a parade.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(CSM) Afghanistan: US should 're-examine' withdrawing from country

Afghanistan’s president says that the US should “re-examine” its plans to withdraw its forces from his country, just days after the official end of combat operations there.

Last week, NATO forces closed down “Operation Enduring Freedom,” the campaign it has run in Afghanistan since 2001, in what The Christian Science Monitor described as “a small Sunday ceremony that made it clear that NATO was not interested in calling a great deal of attention to the occasion.”

Some 13,000 troops, mostly American, will remain in the country to help train Afghan forces and to conduct “counterterrorism” operations “against the remnants of Al Qaeda,” US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said. These forces in turn are due to withdraw by the end of 2016.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(Local Paper) Marine overcomes combat injuries, health issues to be a dad

It was the end of his sixth deployment, with barely a month left, the last mission at hand. And nothing was going right.

The best man in his wedding, a man he’d served with since entering the Marines, was hit by an explosive device, burning the man’s entire body and claiming three of his limbs.

Then, a helicopter crash killed two American servicemen and several Afghan forces.

Last came the ambush.

Read it all and you can find more about Operation Homefront there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(Der Spiegel) The Road to Bamiyan: A Public Works Debacle that Defines Afghanistan

[Vittorio] Roscio hasn’t visited the construction site for ages because it is too dangerous. Instead, he reads the reports here, behind the walls of the Italian government’s campus in Kabul. Over the years, the walls became thicker and thicker, the barbed wire higher and the security protocols stricter. In 2007, Rocio could still walk relatively freely through the streets of Kabul. Now, though, he climbs into a bullet-proof Toyota SUV even for the 30 meters to the Italian Embassy.

Like all international workers in Kabul, Roscio lives in the equivalent of a high security cage and is rarely allowed to go out. As such, his influence over the road to Bamiyan has fallen markedly over the years.

“It is unfortunately extremely difficult to understand Afghanistan from the perspective of Kabul,” Roscio says tiredly. “And it is completely impossible to understand Afghanistan from Europe or America. No chance.” He gets into one of the bullet-proof Toyotas and is driven to the Italian Embassy. The wall opens briefly to let him out and closes again immediately.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, War in Afghanistan

(CSM) Edward Girardet–Allowing Afghanistan's future to be hijacked

The West’s involvement in Afghanistan over the past 12 years has been dominated by one failed opportunity after another. Rather than focusing so massively on the military effort rather than well-informed and better-targeted recovery, for example, the international community could have made a significant difference by supporting a proposal made back in 2002, notably the introduction of electronic ID cards. But the idea was consistently ignored as “impractical.” And yet, in a society where mobile phones are now ubiquitous, it could have served as a relatively reliable voter ID, perhaps preventing stuffed ballots. It could also have helped monitor health, educational, and other crucial data, such as vaccination programs.

For Afghans, the elections are broadly perceived as their last chance before the bulk of foreign troops leave and global development commitment drops even further. Nevertheless, even though Afghans have traditionally proved adept at compromise, the voting abuses may have gone too far. People went to the polls to have their say. To have their vote turned into a shared coalition government primarily because of corruption and abuse of the voting process may only be sending the message that there is no point in democracy.

Yet this does not mean the West should abandon Afghanistan. The last time the West lost interest was after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. This led to a ruthless civil war during the early 1990s followed by the rise of the Taliban supported by Al Qaeda, Pakistan, and even the United States. By the time Washington understood what was happening, it was too late.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Religious Outreach to Veterans

War veterans return home from duty to the communities and families they left behind, but mental and emotional burdens often return with them. Decisions and experiences from the battlefield can lead to post traumatic stress and what is now being recognized as moral injury. The Department of Veterans Affairs is sharing its resources with faith groups to help those returning with deep moral wounds. “To rebuild a moral identity takes a community of support. It takes friends, and it takes a long time,” says Rita Nakashima Brock of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinty School. “There are no other institutions in our society that I know of except religious institutions that support people over their entire life course.”

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology, War in Afghanistan

Mark Tooley–As attractive initially as it may be, Pacifism Does Not Honor Veterans

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Vietnam, Korea, World War II and others across history had noble intent and, like all wars, had their share of tragic consequences. Even “good” wars are filled with suffering by the innocent. Wars are morally justified only when the alternatives are even worse.

Veterans in America’s wars, whether the volunteers of the last 40 years, or the draftees of earlier decades, were not “victims.” They were and are Americans who sacrificially served their country. They should be honored, not romanticized, nor condescended to.

Wallis suggests Memorial Day as a time for asking “hard questions about our wars, what we have learned, and whether such painful losses are truly worth the terrible cost.” Perhaps those questions should also include asking what the world might look like absent the service of America’s veterans and the willingness of America to resist aggression and tyranny.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iraq War, Politics in General, War in Afghanistan

(NBC) Bowe Bergdahl, Army Sergeant Held by Taliban Since 2009, Is Released

Bergdahl, 28, was freed in exchange for five prisoners who were held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center and is back in the hands of the U.S. military, the officials said.

Bergdahl disappeared when he reportedly walked away from a U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009, carrying only a compass and a bottle of water. He was the only U.S. service member ever to be held captive by enemy forces in Afghanistan.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(CSM) How a 'deluge' of US military spending fed corruption in Afghanistan

The US government has inadvertently empowered warlords and nurtured corruption in Afghanistan, warns a strikingly candid new report from the Pentagon that offers a devastating window into worthy US intentions that ended in exorbitant waste.

The initial US focus on defeating the Taliban and Al Qaeda created mutually dependent relationships between the US government and Afghan warlords “that empowered these warlords” and “expanded their opportunities for financial gain,” according to the study, which was produced by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s “lessons learned” department.

This was caused in large part by a “deluge” of military spending that “overwhelmed” the Afghan government’s ability to absorb it and later encouraged spending habits and graft that impeded the US war effort, the report concludes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, The U.S. Government, Theology, War in Afghanistan

A legacy of pain and pride; more thn 1/2h fght in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with health issues

More than half of the 2.6 million Americans dispatched to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of this generation’s veterans, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The long conflicts, which have required many troops to deploy multiple times and operate under an almost constant threat of attack, have exacted a far more widespread emotional toll than previously recognized by most government studies and independent assessments: One in two say they know a fellow service member who has attempted or committed suicide, and more than 1 million suffer from relationship problems and experience outbursts of anger ”” two key indicators of post-traumatic stress.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Marriage & Family, Psychology, War in Afghanistan

George Petrolekas–Now that we’ve left Afghanistan, time for deeper questions about what happened

I have been called several times in the last few days, including by journalists, for opinions on our involvement in Afghanistan. The most often asked question is rather simplistic ”“ understandable when a story has to fit into the bookends of other news events, but revealing in that Canadians desire that 12 years should be summarized into a thumbs-up or thumbs-down question. It is also indicative of the collective national withdrawal symptom and its accompanying amnesia.

To that simple question ”“ “Was it worth it?” ”“ the answer is yes. Afghanistan is far better off than what it was in 2001 by almost every possible metric. Certainly, many have died and continue to do so through insurgent actions and improvised explosive devices. Undeniably governance is weak and corruption embedded, but there are no longer public amputations and executions, there is no longer ethnic repression on the scale there once was, health care has improved and there remains a sense of hope. Hope that women won’t just be chattel once again and girls can continue to be schooled, hope that governance will improve, and hope that the roots of democracy and of an improving economic condition can continue to grow.

The Canadian Forces, our police and our diplomats did what they were asked and aside from the broader legacy it can be said that Canada’s presence in Kandahar prevented a Taliban takeover and that Canada set the conditions for the subsequent U.S. surge.

Read it all from the Globe and Mail.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Canada, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, War in Afghanistan

(Sightings) Martin Marty–Niebuhrian Irony and Drones

Niebuhr would ask, about drones: “given the resentments among local populations,…how many terrorists are we creating for every one we kill?” What sort of precedents are we creating with a program of “targeted assassinations?” “Will targeted assassinations ever eliminate or even reduce the causes of violent Islamic radicalism?”

So [Andrew] Bacevich thinks that Niebuhr would condemn the drone campaign as ill-conceivedand immoral.

Yes, after 9/11 “doing nothing may not be an option,” but is it the only option? Let the questioning and debate continue, with IRONY not only on our sweatshirts, but as a perspective on what has to be on the minds of the thoughtful. – See more at: http://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/niebuhrian-irony-and-drones-%E2%80%94-martin-e-marty#sthash.P1sXnXFg.dpuf

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq War, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Terrorism, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(WSJ) Frustrated by Karzai, U.S. Shifts Afghanistan Exit Plans

The U.S. military has revised plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan to allow the White House to wait until President Hamid Karzai leaves office before completing a security pact and settling on a post-2014 U.S. troop presence, officials said.

The option for waiting reflects a growing belief in Washington that there is little chance of repairing relations with Mr. Karzai and getting him to sign the bilateral security agreement before elections scheduled for the spring.

“If he’s not going to be part of the solution, we have to have a way to get past him,” said a senior U.S. official. “It’s a pragmatic recognition that clearly Karzai may not sign the BSA and that he doesn’t represent the voice of the Afghan people.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(W. Post) Afghan soldiers desperate for pact with U.S., criticize President Karzai for delay

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(PewR) More than Half of Amercians Now See Failure rather than Success in Iraq, Afghanistan

After more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the public does not think the United States has achieved its goals in either country. About half of Americans (52%) say the U.S. has mostly failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan while 38% say it has mostly succeeded. Opinions about the U.S. war in Iraq are virtually the same: 52% say the United States has mostly failed in reaching its goals there, while 37% say it has mostly succeeded.

In both cases, evaluations of the wars have turned more negative in recent years. In November 2011, as the U.S. was completing its military withdrawal from Iraq, a majority (56%) thought the U.S. had achieved its goals there.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Iraq War, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, President George Bush, Theology, War in Afghanistan

Globe and Mail Editorial–Afghanistan: What will be after we’re gone

In much of the world this is a time of new beginnings. In Afghanistan, it is time to mark the beginning of an end: A dozen year commitment of foreign troops to fight the Taliban will wind down this year, meaning 51,000 American soldiers are poised to take their leave from a conflict that appears to be stumbling towards a stalemate, or worse.

The Afghanistan mission has been the longest military engagement in American history. For Canada, which saw 30,000 of its soldiers pass through the country over nine and a half years, it is the largest military operation since the Second World War. One hundred and fifty-eight Canadian soldiers and four civilians died, and by the end of 2010, a total of 1,859 military members had been wounded.

Those grim figures are just part of the reason why Afghanistan’s future should still matter ”“ to Canada and its allies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Canada, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

Local Feel Good Story–Special Ops duty Offcr in Afghanistan is Home for Christmas in S.C.

Uniform by uniform, teary eye by teary eye, soldiers are turning up at the airports to hugs, home for Christmas from war-torn Afghanistan. Each reunion is a heartwringer.

Not every military member over there is a soldier, though, and not every job is fighting. Somebody, after all, has to pay for it.

So among the soldiers who landed in Charleston last week was Siamak “Mak” Araghi, a civilian Army Corps of Engineers finance officer, who volunteered for months of duty at an occasionally bombed headquarters near Kabul. His Summerville family waited at the gate, his 8-year-old daughter Salma as close as she could get.

Sam Araghi, Mak’s 13-year-old son, said his dad getting home before Christmas was the best gift he could get this year.

Read it all and you have to love the picture.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Children, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Marriage & Family, War in Afghanistan

My Favorite Veteran's Story of the last Few Years–An ESPN piece on the Saratoga WarHorse Program

Warrior and Warhorse from The Seventh Movement on Vimeo.

Saratoga Springs, N.Y., famous for its historic racetrack, is among the most idyllic places in America. But on a recent fall weekend, not far from the track, horses were serving a different mission: retired thoroughbreds were recruited to help returning veterans at Song Hill Farm. A group from the US Army 2nd Battalion, 135th infantry, united in grief over the death of a fellow solider, gathered for the first time in five years to be part of Saratoga Warhorse, a three-day program that pairs veterans with horses. Tom Rinaldi reports the emotional story of the veterans, paired with their horses, undergoing a rebirth of trust and taking a first step toward healing.

Watch it all, and, yes, you will likely need kleenex–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Animals, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, War in Afghanistan

A Profile of Rita Brock–A Minister Tending to Veterans’ Afflictions of the Soul

The personal and the pastoral…both inform Ms. [Rita] Brock’s work. She writes about her father in her recent book “Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War.” Her co-author, Gabriella Lettini, is a theologian whose extended family includes veterans emotionally damaged by wartime experience. In the Soul Repair Center, Ms. Brock collaborates with the Rev. Herman Keizer Jr., who was an Army chaplain for 40 years.

Over the past three years, Ms. Brock and Ms. Lettini have spoken about moral injury and soul repair at the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting and at denominational gatherings of Presbyterians and Unitarian Universalists.

Now, with a $650,000 two-year grant from the Lilly Endowment and the formal support of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Soul Repair Center is beginning to teach congregational leaders how to address moral injury in veterans. The first such training session will take place in early February.

Read it all, a story worth revisiting today from January.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(WSJ) Michael Phillips–Why U.S. Troops Want to Stay in Afghanistan

U.S. and Afghan politicians are in the middle of a heated debate over whether a small American and NATO force will remain in Afghanistan at the end of next year.

But what’s a political and strategic question at the negotiating table is an emotional question at bases around Afghanistan, where soldiers watch the discussions with one eye on their sacrifices over the past 12 years and the other on the American withdrawal from Vietnam four decades ago.

In short, they don’t want to go home without the win.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Pakistan, Politics in General, Terrorism, The U.S. Government, Theology, War in Afghanistan