On the 24th of May, dozens of Taliban leaders were congregating in a building located in the Musa Qala district of Afghanistan. The U.S. military authorized a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System strike on the meeting place, which killed at least 50 Taliban insurgents, according to U.S. military officials in Afghanistan.
Rahmatullah says he was a farmer who fled his hometown of Sangin, in Afghanistan’s restive Helmand Province, after U.S. Marines began combat operations there in 2010. “For seven days we were stuck in our home, with the Taliban on one side and the Americans on the other,” he told me, wiping tears from his eyes. “Then a bomb landed on our house, killing my mother and son.”
Is there less courage on the battlefield today than during previous wars? If you only looked at the number of awards for valor presented to service members, you might get that impression. There’s been a noticeable decrease in valor citations issued during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, compared with previous conflicts. There are plenty of reasons for this, but a lack of bravery isn’t one of them.