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Anne Mikolay

According to Stripes.com, in 2019, twenty-two American service members were killed in Afghanistan; all but four were combat-related. Log onto Stripes.com and see the faces of these young soldiers who lost their lives in service to our country. Consider them as more than fatalities of war, representative of distant combat without connection to our daily lives. Think about these men not as soldiers, but as sons, fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, friends. Each was the  light in someone else’s life. Their lives mattered.

And their lives should still matter.

American intelligence officials have reported that a Russian intelligence unit covertly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan, including targeting American troops. President Trump and the National Security Council were briefed about the Russian bounty operation in March. However, to date the current administration has not confronted the issue. In fact, President Trump has denied knowledge of this report and has suggested it may be “possibly another fabricated hoax.”

If you look at the faces of the twenty-two American troops who died in Afghanistan in 2019, some possibly targeted by Russian funded militants, and you are not enraged and deeply saddened by the absence of swift government response and presidential concern, something is extremely wrong with your mindset (especially if you are a veteran or are related to one).

This is not a bipartisan issue. The political affiliation of the American intelligence officials who brought this information to light is of little consequence. What matters is the United States’ response, or lack thereof. Is this Russian bounty operation a valid concern or, as Trump posits, a “fabricated hoax?” Either way, something needs to be done about it. Until the intelligence report is proven a hoax, the welfare of our troops, both psychological and physical, is compromised. Our troops, who daily put their lives on the line, shouldn’t have to worry about bounties on their heads. These brave men and women, to whom we owe so much, deserve to know the President has their backs; their families need to know the same. They deserve a president who will protect them and urgently and publicly address the Russian/Taliban situation.

The twenty-two lives lost in Afghanistan matter, as do the lives of the 8,600 troops (as of June 18, 2020) currently deployed there. America deserves a president who puts our country first, one who consistently values and protects the lives of American patriots, and actively, rather than theoretically, pledges allegiance to the flag.

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