Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
‘I Have Already Killed Many Taliban’: Afghan Commando Reflects On Fighting For 12 Years
Editor’s note: This is a dispatch by T&P; correspondent Marty Skovlund Jr. who is reporting on the ground from Afghanistan.
“My first advice for the Taliban is to come back to the straight path,” said Ehsanullah Akr as he squinted into the bright afternoon sun, echoing the same “reintegrate or die” mantra I’ve heard many Afghan soldiers say when asked about the enemy. Akr doesn’t know how old he is, but he does know he’s been fighting the Taliban for 12 years as a commando “in almost every province of Afghanistan.” Despite a bullet wound to the shoulder he sustained during a fierce battle in the mountains, he continues to wear the commandos’ distinctive maroon beret.
Ehsanullah Akr on the top of Punishment Hill, Afghanistan.Task & Purpose photo by Marty Skovlund Jr.
I met Akr on top of Punishment Hill, which overlooks Camp Commando, an Afghan special forces training center just outside of Kabul. It’s a steep ascent for any commando recruit who finds himself on the bad side of the NCOs who run the selection course. Akr was pulling duty in the Punishment Hill guard tower when we arrived, and was very excited for me to take his picture on the condition that he get a copy to show off. I agreed and, being a disciplined soldier, Akr rushed off to get into proper uniform.
Task & Purpose photo by Marty Skovlund Jr.
He proudly donned his maroon beret while I focused in on his weathered face, hoping to capture the essence of a man who has seen more combat than me or anyone I knew. I told him that I also served in an American commando unit, both in Khost at FOB Salerno as well as in Jalalabad, Nangarhar.
Task & Purpose photo by Marty Skovlund Jr.
“When Taliban attack Salerno,” he replied, “I was one of commandos who responded. We killed many Taliban.” He was referring to the attack on FOB Salerno in 2010, which occurred just a few month after I finished my final deployment. Small world, I thought.
With the Taliban still a formidable threat in Afghanistan, I knew that it wouldn’t be long before Akr returned to the fight. He didn’t seem like the type of guy to call it quits before the job was done, so I told him to be safe but to kill a lot of Taliban. His reply was very matter of fact: “I have already killed many Taliban.”
The U.S. military's withdrawal from northeast Syria is looking more like Dunkirk every day.
On Wednesday, the U.S. military had to call in an airstrike on one of its own ammunition dumps in northern Syria because the cargo trucks required to safely remove the ammo are needed elsewhere to support the withdrawal, Task & Purpose has learned.
Retired two-star Navy. Adm. Joe Sestak is the highest ranking — and perhaps, least known — veteran who is trying to clinch the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.
Sestak has decades of military experience, but he is not getting nearly as much media attention as fellow veterans Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). Another veteran, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) has dropped out of the race.
After preliminary fitness test scores leaked in September, many have voiced concerns about how women would fare in the new Army Combat Fitness Test.
The scores — which accounted for 11 of the 63 battalions that the ACFT was tested on last year — showed an overall failure rate of 84% for women, and a 70% pass rate for men.
But Army leaders aren't concerned about this in the slightest.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Three U.S. diplomats have been removed from a train and briefly questioned by Russian authorities in the sensitive Arctic shipyard city of Severodvinsk, near the site of a mysterious explosion in August that killed five nuclear workers.
Russia's Interfax news agency reported on October 16 that the diplomats were taken off the train that runs between Severodvinsk and Nyonoksa around 6 p.m. on October 14.
The U.S. Coast Guard had ordered the owner of an illegal 45-foot charter boat, named "Sea You Twerk," to stop operating.
He didn't, the Coast Guard said.
Now, Dallas Lad, 38, will serve 30 days in federal prison, a judge ruled Friday. When he is released, Ladd of Miami Beach, who pleaded guilty, will not be able to own or go on a boat for three years.