- Iran mulls ban on vasectomies, decrease on abortions to bolster population
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers ‘more deadly than jihadists’
- Classes resume at high school rocked by stabbings
- ABC News accuses Center for Public Integrity of stealing Pulitzer-winning work
- Law firm that cleared N.J. Gov. Christie in ‘Bridgegate’ gave 10K to RGA, which he heads
- PETA ‘hopping mad’ at Michelle Obama for using real eggs at Easter Egg Roll
- Sneaky Nebraska toddler traps self inside claw machine game
- Biden to lead $600 million work force training effort
- Atheists’ Easter taunt to Christians: ‘Jesus is a myth’
- Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas City show
A school not opened, a U.S. battle not won
Troops struggle to earn support of wary Afghans
For weeks, firefights erupted almost daily.
U.S. engineers knocked down walls and trees nearby where insurgents hide. Afghan security forces set up checkpoints on surrounding roads, and armored U.S. trucks stood guard to defend the school’s crumbling outer walls.
The school itself was turned into a de facto military base: Capt. Stout’s men stacked sandbags in the windows and installed machine gun nests on the rooftops. They filled rooms with metal boxes of ammunition and anti-tank rockets, and slept on cots inside it.
The U.S. occupation drew the ire of village elders. In mid-July, more than 300 turbaned men from Senjeray urged the provincial governor to pressure the Americans to leave Pir Mohammed. Capt. Stout said that in meetings afterward, elders told him the Taliban had pressured them to do so. Nevertheless, they reiterated the plea - and made a crucial promise in return.
“They were saying, ‘Look, if you get out of the school, we’ll protect the school,’ ” Capt. Stout recalled. “They said, ‘We got it. We’ll keep attacks from happening. And people will go there.’ “
So the U.S. platoons pulled out in mid-August, leaving their Afghan counterparts in charge.
Instead of the peace the elders promised, attacks increased, Capt. Stout said. Within days, the school sustained two grenade assaults and a pair of shoulder-fired rocket strikes, one of which killed a 7-year-old boy playing outside.
At meetings that week with mullahs and elders, Capt. Stout’s team displayed a poster-sized photo of the wounded boy just after the explosion, his face bloodied with shrapnel.
“We said, ‘Look, how does this sit in your stomach? Does this bother you?’ ” Capt. Stout recalled. “We told them: ‘These people clearly don’t care about you, your family, or your livelihood.’ “
The elders agreed, and Capt. Stout made a proposition: “Come bleed with us and defeat the bigger problem. Help drive the insurgents out.”
At that, the elders drew back.
Some said they didn’t know who had carried out the attack. Others said there were no insurgents in Senjeray. Most said they were mere farmers and that the Taliban would cut off their heads if they cooperated with the Americans.
Capt. Stout rebutted with a grim warning: “As long as you guys tolerate this, as long as you turn your backs, your children are going to continue to suffer.”
TWT Video Picks
By returning to Christian roots, the nation can achieve greatness once again
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- GOP writes legislation to deny Attorney General Eric Holder his salary
- Secret U.S. assessments show Afghanistan not ready to govern on own
- Fuel-filled wings, ability to swarm: Pentagon offers glimpse at future of drone fleet
- CARSON: Recovering Tocqueville's vision of American exceptionalism
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
- EDITORIAL: Intolerance at Brandeis silences Muslim dissident Hirsi Ali
- Kirsten Dunst: Actress sparks feminist ire: 'You need a man to be a man'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.