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