Afghan Suicide Bomber Kills Czech NATO Soldiers

On Sunday 5 August, while on a routine foot patrol in Eastern Afghanistan, three Czech NATO soldiers lost their lives to an Afghan suicide bomber. The soldiers were members of NATO’s Resolute Support Force, and were targeted at 6 AM local time. One American soldier and two Afghan soldiers were also wounded in the explosion. Taliban militants have claimed responsibility for the bombing, which took place within 10km of the Bagram military base in Parwan province. The Bagram military base remains the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan. This symbolic attack depicts the instability within the region and the Taliban’s desire for the U.S. to leave their territory.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis paid respects to the fallen Czech soldiers in a tweet, stating “I respect what they did for our country. I am sending my deepest condolences to their families.” Moreover, U.S. Army General John Nicholson, commander of the Resolute Support Forces, affirmed that “[t]heir sacrifice will endure in both our hearts and history and further strengthen our resolve.” Those who have lost their lives have been mourned as heroes and will be remembered for their service within the region. These soldiers have extremely difficult jobs and their efforts should be recognized and honored.

Despite the fact that American presence in the region is causing further instability, President Donald Trump stated that “[a] hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al-Qaeda, would instantly fill.” However, it is important to keep in mind the number of Afghan civilian casualties that have occurred since 2001 due to the presence of U.S. soldiers.

The instability in Afghanistan has created issues for NATO soldiers, as both Taliban militants and the Islamic State remain active. In order to secure the region, the Czech government has recently agreed to deploy an additional 390 troops in Afghanistan through 2020. There are currently 230 Czech troops in the country assisting the ongoing NATO-led Resolute Support mission. The war in Afghanistan began in 2001 when the U.S. invaded to locate Osama Bin Laden and end al-Qaeda’s control. Since the U.S. ended their combat operation against the Taliban in 2014, approximately 16,000 troops from 41 countries have remained deployed in Eastern Afghanistan for counter-terrorism missions. The U.S-led NATO forces have also provided training and support for the Afghan National Army. Due to the actions of the Taliban and their vision of restoring stringent Islamic Law, the U.S. has stayed in the country to keep the peace. However, their presence is especially threatening to militants who view them as “invaders.”

Global terrorism has continued to be an active international security issue. The use of suicide bombers as a weapon of war creates difficulties for those pursuing counter-terrorism and humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. Technological advances allow attackers to often go unnoticed, enabling them to detonate their devices precisely at their desired location. This makes counter-terrorism a difficult job to pursue.  Those who endanger or sacrifice their lives to handle these issues are extremely courageous, although conflict itself is never a clean journey. Finding alternative methods of reducing conflict within the region may include deploying fewer servicemen and continuing to train the Afghan National Army until they can sustain themselves. Reducing American presence may allow for those soldiers who remain to provide humanitarian aid without representing a massive threat to extremist groups. It is important to keep in mind the goal of creating peace, not just exerting control.

Aisha Parker