Helmand militia man, soldier, policeman or Taliban?

Having had the benefit of wandering around pretty much the whole of Afghanistan over a 6 year period and talking to everyone there from Taliban, warlords, drug lords, military, police, militia men, women, children and even two Afghan Presidents…it gave me a terrific view point on the ground with both eyes and ears wide open.

As I’ve mentioned over the years many times…Afghans will ALWAYS jump to the winning side.

That’s because for decades they’ve had to find a way to survive…feed their families and keep them alive in times of danger.

Their loyalties are to themselves, their families and their tribes…that’s it!

However…if you’re seen as winning, and you’re handing out money…they will be well chuffed to work for you. So would I in their position.

Since early 2004 through to 2010 I watched Afghans receive military training, get kitted out and deployed to a far off Province…then run to the Taliban along with their weapons, ammunition and kit…on way too many occasions. It is not a recent development! I’ve seen the police do exactly the same…again, on way too many occasions.

Kabul fell without a fight…why? Because the young fighting age Afghan male, placed in an Afghan uniform had no choice but to join a force that fed him, clothed him, and gave him a wage that would put bread on the table for his family and extended family back where he came from in his fiefdom…and that’s it, nothing more than that. No loyalty whatsoever, only to who I mentioned already above.

So with that, many people are shouting about bringing home Afghan male interpreters who worked with our Forces over the last 20 years. And I absolutely get US and Brit soldiers and others from the coalition screaming for their interpreters to be brought to the West. Given what they had all gone through fighting each and every day during their deployments and living 24/7 with these young Afghans in hellish scenarios. However, in the cold light of day, putting our loyalties to one side as individuals, these young men were there for the wage only. They were paid a prince’s purse compared to others from their villages and towns. They were briefed to keep quiet back home as to who they were working for in order not to compromise themselves or their families. And just as importantly, they were deployed to a Province that was not their home Province…again so that they wouldn’t become compromised.

Now, if they had compromised themselves by talking back home, showing off their wage, showing pictures, certificates or other compromising material…then that is not the fault of who they were working for or with. Therefore, even the interpreters must be correctly vetted. Remember, they too suffer from the trauma of war, in fact all they have known is war…so PTSD, hatred of a corrupt government, being left to rot by the US foreign policies of the day and other issues are deep within some of their mindsets right now. Look just how angry we all are while living comfortably at home, at the scenarios of the last 20 years over there and the inept policies of our politicians and generals. Well, just imagine these poor individuals who have lived every single minute of it.

During my military embeds with the media, I pretty much spoke with dozens of young Afghan male interpreters over a 6 year period deployed all over the country…to a man they would tell me that they were doing it for the money. I would even speak to them about where they lived in relation to where they were on operations. Not one was working in his home Province.

Every one of these young men has only known war, just how sad is that? And given the rate of running off to the winning side, and the times that NATO soldiers were killed or wounded by what they call Green on Blue scenarios, where the Afghan in uniform would shoot at NATO soldiers in training or operations…it goes without saying that our governments have to be extremely careful when vetting these young men as well as all the others for immigration purposes.

Over the last few days I’ve watched on TV and on the internet thousands of young men of fighting age managing to get themselves to Kabul airport early enough to jump onto planes before NATO countries have got their act together on the ground. The footage that we’ve all seen now of the poor individuals falling from the plane at height, then the ground crew at the destination finding what was left of a body trapped in the wheel well is something that I never want to watch or hear of again. It’s human nature to feel sorry for each and every one of them…I’m there too thinking the very same, but I have to pause momentarily and think about the security of my own streets at home first and foremost also.

Right now in the UK there are thousands of young foreign men of fighting age arriving illegally on our shores almost every single day. Some getting apprehended by the authorities and some not. Who are they, and just how many are Trojan Horses sent by those enablers who wish them to do harm on our streets sometime in the future?

Young Afghan males of fighting age.

To every Afghan woman and child my heart goes out to you, and I hope that you find safe passage to freedom.

To every fit and tough young Afghan male of fighting age who is still in Afghanistan today, in my view you have a choice…fight for your freedom in your own fiefdom or submit to the Taliban.

Afghanistan is the graveyard of Empires as we have all heard for decades now. There will always be outside proxies interfering for one-upmanship against their International competitors…it’s the great game, played for centuries now. The only way that this will stop is for Afghans to either agree on splitting up the country or indeed coming together and forming a non corrupt government that will win the will of the people with no outside influence either way…an almost impossible task without the right leadership.

Please NATO countries, get the immigration of Afghans right, including even the young male interpreters. Just who out of all the young males of fighting age seeking a better life are deliberately coming in as Trojan Horses?

To every decent Afghan male who sees equal rights for women…I wish you all the very best in the quest for a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan or indeed a better life elsewhere… as our politicians and generals have let you down badly over the last 20 years, but sadly we can never change the past, only the future.

Published by: bobshepherdauthor

Bestselling author Bob Shepherd has spent nearly forty years operating in conflict areas around the world. A twenty year veteran of Britain’s elite 22 SAS Regiment with nearly two decades of private security work to his credit, Bob has successfully negotiated some of the most dangerous places on earth as a special forces soldier and a private citizen. Bob comments regularly on security issues and has appeared on CNN International, BBC, SKY News, and BBC Radio. He has also authored numerous articles and books including the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller The Circuit. In addition to writing and lecturing, Bob continues to advise individuals operating in hostile environments. For more of his insights on security and geopolitics visit www.bobshepherdauthor.com

Categories Uncategorized11 Comments


  1. Tommy
    What a fresh and unbiased insight,for a change. Not some snowflake ,do-gooder or racist versions .I only hope more people get to see this side of the story, and they can make their own unbiased decision.

  2. I think that is a very balanced assessment. Unlikely though that much cognisance will be taken by the left wing fools currently pulling the strings.

  3. Wow what a brilliant post Bob. I do genuinely feel for the people of Afghanistan, more so the women and children. But I agree that we have to vet any refugees very carefully. As you said how many of these people are actually Taliban just waiting for a chance to do us harm. After all I believe that they were always there, hiding in plain sight, gaining so many of our military men and womens trust along the way. And thank you to you all for your service to our country.

  4. Excellent evaluation hope what you have written is taken into consideration when the correct decision is made.

  5. A great look outside the chaos on concerns thats not being addressed at this point, a real plan is needed not one that saves faces and pride but create a safe country for themselves.

  6. Fantastic commentary good sir-

    The inept occupier of our White House is not our president…and he is grossly incompetent. Most importantly he has zero interest in doing his primary job- protecting our country.

  7. Sir, could you address the following, if any of it is known to you: 1. is it true that exposed urban elites in Afghanistan (aka predominantly corrupt people) had western passports waiting for them in several embassies, and that these are part of the “citizens” being evacuated? 2. Is it true that liberal western ngo and agencies and their employees are deeply intwined with local government corruption and thus the big bucks of war? 3. is it true that Afghans living in the west on a refugee permit (aka because they would be in immediate danger at home) travel to Afghanistan regularly? 4. is it viable that the “evacuation” is in fact a rather uncontrolled emigration service for everyone on unchecked lists from ngo et.al., as well as anyone making it to the airport (which may be a business model in itself); especially given that any definite numbers have already disappeared from the media, more and more endangered groups are being defined, family reunion is being demanded (4, 5, 6 or more people per evacuee), and the targeted “evacuation” is effectively turning into a military protected “air bridge” including more and more civilian airlines? In your opinion, what is going on here?

    1. I’m afraid Chris that I’m not in a position to answer any of those questions. All I know is what I’ve written in my post. I do know that it is extremely difficult to vet a young Afghan male of fighting age.

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