I feel helpless, afraid for the little Afghan girls I once saved


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As soon as the Biden administration announced in April that the United States would withdraw troops from Afghanistan, I began to worry about the fate of the girls I met there almost ten years ago.

When I looked at news footage on Sunday of the Taliban turning the nation into complete chaos and overthrowing the government in Kabul, my fears of losing the rights of women and girls escalated tenfold.

In 2012, I served as culture support team (CST) leader next to the Green Berets at Combat Outpost Herrera, year Province of Paktia on the Afghan-Pakistani border. These teams — two female soldiers and an interpreter — were joined by special operations units, specifically tasked with interacting with local women and children because it was culturally inappropriate for elite men’s special forces teams to do so.

Former captain Jackie Munn at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Afghanistan 2012.

As CSTs, part of our work involved identifying the root causes of instability in villages near our branch office, and how to implement security, management and development measures to make these areas safer.

During our stay in Afghanistan, my teammate and I were able to meet and collaborate with local male teachers. We worked in the ethnic and tribal Pashtun district, where the villagers wanted to educate all their children, so they quietly ran schools for girls. The consequences for the teachers or the villages that allowed the girls to go to school were terrible. During one of my first intelligence reports on local threats and Taliban activities in the area, our CST was shown videos of the Taliban kidnapping teachers, taking them to barren areas, and firing them from a rifle without tilting, halving the bodies.


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Stacy

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