Paying Off the Taliban

Let me say first off that I took no pleasure in writing this; I actually spent in excess of 12 hours writing this because I couldn’t look at what I’d written without getting mad and having to leave.  I hate remembering this day, and sometimes I wish I could forget it.  But these events are what taught me the truth about the Marine Corps, and this truth must be known.

I spent May – Dec of 2010 in that lovely part of the world otherwise known as Afghanistan.  During my time there I spent a considerable portion of it on the Headquarters Co. Guard Force, a less-than desirable duty, but such is life.  One of the duties of the Guard was to post security to the security on a small Hesco “Schoolhouse” at the south end of the base, for the weekly “Shura” meetings.   During these meetings local Afghanis would meet with the company clerks, and would be hired to dig wells, fill sand bags, pick up trash around the outside of the base, and whatever other mundane tasks they could think of to shovel cash into the Afghani economy.  Once the tasks had been fulfilled, the Afghanis would return to the next Shura to receive their payment.

At any rate, I was on post one day in mid-July, when a member of my section approached me, and told me that there was a document being circulated around the base saying that we were paying the Taliban.  Naturally I was waiting for the punch line to some ridiculous joke, but my comrade didn’t smile.  He continued to tell me that this document – which was written and signed by the Battalion Commander, and hidden behind a Secret security clearance – said that it had come to the attention of the Battalion Commander that after the weekly Shura meetings, the Taliban would arrive at the door of the locals we had hired, threaten their lives and the lives of their families for working with the Americans, and then the Taliban would take the money we had paid the locals as payment for allowing the locals to live.

At first I was doubtful, as I’m sure most anyone would be upon hearing such news. It didn’t sound like the “Honor Courage Commitment” mantra that the Corps had taken every opportunity to drill into my head since boot camp; but I could see the seriousness in his voice.  I didn’t want to believe him, but I was plagued by the thought that “he might be right”.

Two days later I was tasked to help clean the company office tent after hours.  During the course of cleaning I noticed that 1st Sgt’s desk had papers scattered all over it, and I went to tidy it up.  And there it was: Secret Security clearance, Battalion Commander’s name and signature at the bottom, sitting right on the 1st Sgt’s desk.  As I read it I realized that I hadn’t been lied to.  I wish I could remember it verbatim, but the letter described the Shura meetings for those who weren’t familiar with them; then continued describing how our Afghani employees were being relieved of their earnings by the Taliban under pain of death, and then the letter said the one line I will never forget, it said that there would be no changes in policy made and no action taken because “Under the current conditions, the Taliban in the area are remaining peaceful.”

As I read that, any faith I may have had in the Marine Corps was lost.  I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing.  To paraphrase “We’re not going to stop holding these Shura meetings, because if we stop indirectly funding the Taliban they might get upset!”  Wouldn’t that just be horrible, if the people we are supposed to be killing were to get upset?  I don’t know how I would sleep at night knowing that the Taliban was mad at me!

But let’s go ahead and take this a step farther: what do you suppose the Taliban would be buying with all of our money?  I would say guns, bullets and explosives are probably on the shopping list somewhere.  Now who do you suppose those guns, bullets and explosives are being used against?  U.S. Service members maybe?  So we have the Marines serving the Marine Corps, the Marine Corps paying the Taliban, and the Taliban killing the Marines.  That makes the Marine Corps effectively the legitimate face of a terrorist organization, and every Marine, myself included, is an accessory to murder.  Knowing that, is there anyone out there who could look me in the eye and tell me that the military is a noble profession?  Anyone at all?

When I finished reading, I put the papers away and left without a word.  To this day my only regret is that I didn’t take that paper with me.  Without that document I have no evidence, and anyone who reads this can call me a liar, and I can do nothing to refute their claim.  But I hope – despite the fact that emotion doesn’t show well through written words – that the sincerity of my words rings through, so that you may know as I do, the truth about the U.S. Marine Corps.

My story is now told. There is nothing more that I can do.

Bless me Father, for I am sin; as are all who wear the uniform of a Marine.

 

Safety and Peace

NINJA_PUNCH

  • Truth

    I believe you. This shit is STILL going on over there.

    • Anonymous

      I hate to hear that it’s still happening, but it still feels kind of good to know I’m not the only one who can attest to these claims.

  • Truth

    I believe you. This shit is STILL going on over there.

    • NINJA_PUNCH

      I hate to hear that it’s still happening, but it still feels kind of good to know I’m not the only one who can attest to these claims.

  • Cashtunwali

    Based on your deployment time frame (May-December 2010) and your unit (H&S Guard Force), I’m going to assume you were at FOB Geronimo with 3/3.  If not, I apologize, but I will give you my perspective from serving with that unit, in that time frame, and privy to similar information.

    First, our mission in Afghanistan is not to destroy the Taliban.  I know many Marines think it is, and that is a failure of their commands to properly brief them.  Our mission — according to President Obama and Generals McChrystal, Petraeus, and Allen — is to help make the Afghan Army and Police strong enough to combat the Taliban on their own.  We can stay in Afghanistan for decades, and kill as many Taliban as we can, and we will not win.  We are not Afghans, we don’t speak the language, and we don’t understand the culture.  If the Afghan security forces are getting better, we are winning.  What the Taliban is doing is ultimately irrelevant, especially if they aren’t making trouble (i.e. killing Marines), which the battalion document you referred to says they weren’t.

    Second, how do you know the Taliban were the ones taking the money?  The Taliban is not the Marine Corps.  You don’t sign up for a four-year contract.  Most Taliban fighters drift in and out, depending on the circumstances at the time.  Joe Mohammed may be a farmer one month, because it’s safe, and a Taliban the next, because his harvest didn’t work out or he needs the money for something.  Can you tell the difference between a Taliban or an ordinary armed Afghan robbing you?  No?  Don’t worry, neither can most Afghans, who also tend to refer to anyone they don’t like as ‘Taliban’.  Finally, Afghans are masters of bullshit.  Can you see Joe Mohammed taking money from the Americans, then going back the next day and saying he was robbed, just to get more money from us?  I can.

    Third, what is wrong with paying off the locals not to attack us?  We only had one Marine killed on our whole deployment, and less than a dozen wounded (most lightly).  Would you rather have a 3/5-style deployment, with over twenty KIA and over a hundred WIA?  And if you’re thinking Second Fallujah-style combat, don’t.  Most of them were killed by IEDs they never even saw, because that’s how the Taliban likes to fight.  I’ve been in long enough to know that all that matters is bringing back as many people as you can, and if you can accomplish the mission with minimal casualties, go for it.

    Semper Fi

    • Anonymous

      Close but no cigar for the unit.  But for the sake of not narrowing down the marine corps’ options I’ve removed your guess.  I trust you’ll understand.

  • Cashtunwali

    I will give you my perspective from serving with that unit, in that time frame, and privy to similar information.

    First, our mission in Afghanistan is not to destroy the Taliban.  I know many Marines think it is, and that is a failure of their commands to properly brief them.  Our mission — according to President Obama and Generals McChrystal, Petraeus, and Allen — is to help make the Afghan Army and Police strong enough to combat the Taliban on their own.  We can stay in Afghanistan for decades, and kill as many Taliban as we can, and we will not win.  We are not Afghans, we don’t speak the language, and we don’t understand the culture.  If the Afghan security forces are getting better, we are winning.  What the Taliban is doing is ultimately irrelevant, especially if they aren’t making trouble (i.e. killing Marines), which the battalion document you referred to says they weren’t.

    Second, how do you know the Taliban were the ones taking the money?  The Taliban is not the Marine Corps.  You don’t sign up for a four-year contract.  Most Taliban fighters drift in and out, depending on the circumstances at the time.  Joe Mohammed may be a farmer one month, because it’s safe, and a Taliban the next, because his harvest didn’t work out or he needs the money for something.  Can you tell the difference between a Taliban or an ordinary armed Afghan robbing you?  No?  Don’t worry, neither can most Afghans, who also tend to refer to anyone they don’t like as ‘Taliban’.  Finally, Afghans are masters of bullshit.  Can you see Joe Mohammed taking money from the Americans, then going back the next day and saying he was robbed, just to get more money from us?  I can.

    Third, what is wrong with paying off the locals not to attack us?  We only had one Marine killed on our whole deployment, and less than a dozen wounded (most lightly).  Would you rather have a 3/5-style deployment, with over twenty KIA and over a hundred WIA?  And if you’re thinking Second Fallujah-style combat, don’t.  Most of them were killed by IEDs they never even saw, because that’s how the Taliban likes to fight.  I’ve been in long enough to know that all that matters is bringing back as many people as you can, and if you can accomplish the mission with minimal casualties, go for it.

    Semper Fi