email a friend iconprinter friendly iconTen Years of Adventure: The Afghanistan Decade
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One thing that emerges from your article is the sense of pride, a fierceness, a hardiness, in the Afghan culture.

During the ’80s, they started fighting the Soviets—one of the mightiest militaries in the world—with old hunting rifles. They won, in part, because they got their hands on some good weapons courtesy of the United States. But without the incredible courage of the people, no weapons in the world would have won that war. Illiterate Afghan farmers were able to destroy Russian tanks, take the hulks, fix them to the point where they were running again, and use them to fight the Russians. They are some of the most resourceful, smartest people in the world, and if you took those traits and put them to work in an even moderately stable country, they would just flourish.

Tell us about your forthcoming book, which you reported in Afghanistan.

I spent a year—a whole deployment—with one platoon of Americans, 30 men from the 173rd Airborne Brigade. We were in a very remote place, a two-hour walk up a mountainside, in an outpost with no running water, no Internet—just sandbags and ammunition. These 30 guys saw a lot of combat. Sometimes several firefights a day. This isn’t like roadside bombs and IEDs—although that happened as well in some areas—this is all small arms, maneuvering across terrain, behind trees, behind rocks. It was very intense.

What’s Massoud’s legacy going to be?

Massoud was the last holdout against the Taliban. Without his efforts keeping the Northern Alliance alive—carving out that sanctuary in the northeast part of the country—the U.S. military would have had to fight their way in, on foot, which is exactly what al Qaeda was hoping would happen. And it would have been a very bloody and messy business. I think Americans need to understand that Massoud’s efforts saved our nation a lot of casualties.

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