The war in Afghanistan is now old enough to buy cigarettes, get awful military tattoos, enlist, and fight itself


VIDEO: Operation Enduring Freedom Turns 17

Turning 18 is exciting. The additional freedom you've been longing for since 16 is finally yours; the future is wide open and full of opportunity; you're finally an adult, and that still sounds like fun!

But for Operation Enduring Freedom, turning 18 means...much of the same as the last several years.

And America has largely lost interest.

In July, then-Secretary of Defense nominee Mark Esper wasn't asked about Afghanistan once during his confirmation hearing. Then-Secretary of the Army nominee Ryan McCarthy — an Army Ranger who was one of the first on the ground in Afghanistan — wasn't asked about the war until two hours into his confirmation hearing in September.

The American public appears to have moved on from a war that's still happening, as the Pentagon looks ahead in preparation of potential future conflicts with Russia, China, and Iran.

And then late on Sunday night, hours before the anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, the White House announced that it would be leaving U.S.-backed Kurdish allies to the mercy of Turkey, and while the Pentagon isn't endorsing a Turkish incursion into northeast Syria, it's not exactly planning on stopping them either.

And just like that, the world shifted its attention once again. By 4pm on Monday, the war hadn't even been mentioned in a tweet by the President.

Hate to see a big birthday upstaged like that!

But since there's still a few hours left in the war in Afghanistan's big day, so here are a few things it can look forward to, now that it's legally an adult:

  • Vote
  • Get a tattoo
  • Enlist (and fight...itself?)
  • Go to college — perhaps Harvard
  • Visit a strip club
  • Buy cigarettes — which, if its enlisting, is really the only option since vape pens got the boot
  • Be selected for jury duty
  • Get married without parental approval
  • Play the lottery
  • Legally change its name

So OEF, best of luck in this new chapter. And remember, if anyone asks your age, answer with "old enough to party."

A UH-60 Black Hawk departs from The Rock while conducting Medevac 101 training with members of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group, Feb. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys)

A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.

At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.

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The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.

Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."

Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.

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The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.

Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.

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I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.

Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.

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An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps

"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.

At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.

Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.

"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."

She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."

It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.

The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.

But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.

The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.

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