Is Now Really the Time for an Afghanistan Pullout?

Is Now Really the Time for an Afghanistan Pullout?

An October 2020 raid which killed a top al Qaeda leader indicates that the terrorist group is thriving under the protective wing of the Taliban.

When raiders breached the lair of Husam Abd-al-Rauf and killed him, they also discovered messages to cell groups and instructions for a pair of drone strikes in Syria. The evidence indicated that the link between the Taliban and Al Qaeda is “now much deeper than we think,” according to one official. Essentially, the Taliban shelters the remnants of Al Qaeda in exchange for money and insurgency warfare expertise. Both the United Nations and the U.S. Treasury Department has recently expressed concerns that the group is strengthening.

In announcing the peace deal, U.S. President Joe Biden declared that Al Qaeda had “degraded” to the point that it could not use Afghanistan “as a base from which to attack our homeland again.”

Al Qaeda

In what seems like a previous life, America went to war in Afghanistan to dislodge Al Qaeda. 10 years later, “The Base” is no longer the organization which shook Americans to the core on 9/11. But this terrorist organization is still a force to be reckoned with.

First, let’s take a step back. Most Al Qaeda members would vehemently disagree with the “terrorist” label. As far as they are concerned, like so many other religious warriors throughout the world, Al Qaeda is a religious movement that uses violence as a tool. These individuals believe that Jews and Christians are working to destroy Islam. In Al Qaeda’s world view, Jews and Chirsitians are kafir. This word is often translated as “infidel,” but it is much worse. Kafir people are those who have consciously rejected Islam and therefore essentially have no right to live.

Al Qaeda is not crazy about Islam either, at least in its current form. They consider liberal Muslims kafir. Furthermore, Al Qaeda seeks to overthrow democratic man-made governments and replace them with its version of sharia law.

As for recent events, after Navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011, the organization has been steadily deteriorating. Then, between 2019 and 2020, this deterioration accelerated when the U.S. or its allies killed five top Al Qaeda leaders. Hamza bin Laden, Osama’s son, was among the dead.

By 2020, the organization was largely a brand name which splinter groups used for recruiting or fundraising purposes. The Defense Intelligence Agency now believes that Al Qaeda is largely done as a fighting force, as the leadership losses have taken their toll.

However, according to the above story, reports of Al Qaeda’s demise might have been greatly exaggerated. No one really knows for sure.

In 2005, Al Qaeda published its “Strategy to the Year 2020.” This document predicted that an international Muslim Caliphate would be in place by 2013 and it would achieve “total victory” by 2020. Obviously, this grand vision did not pan out. But Al Qaeda is still a threat, especially if it has support from the Taliban or another group.

Contractors in the War on Terror

As terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS continue evolving, regular servicemembers cannot possibly keep up. Only flexible private military contractors can do that.

Frequently, Army and other units spend months training for a specific mission only to find that, once they arrive, the situation has changed dramatically. In contrast, experienced private military contractors can be boots-on-the-ground after just one phone call. These fighters cannot participate in offensive operations. But they can hold down the fort while regular servicemembers pour additional resources into such an operation.

Anti-insurgency operations often depend on intelligence. Private military contractors, many of whom are former police officers, know how to gather reliable information. Regular servicemembers sometimes do not like assignments which make them essentially foreign police officers. Private military contractors, who are in fact foreign police officers, embrace these tasks.

Contractors also provide infrastructure support in the Global War on Terror. Contractors pass on what they know about anti-insurgency warfare to soldiers in foreign security forces. The better trained these fighters are, the less need these countries have to risk American lives in the War on Terror.

Finally, contractors provide important logistical support. Soldiers have the most advanced weapons ever, and these weapons require a high degree of skill to maintain. Contractors have these skills, mostly because, in many cases, they work for the company that designed and built the military hardware.

Injury Compensation Available

All of these activities are dangerous. In addition to things like militant abushes, overseas contractors risk falls and other non-combat injuries. Frequently, the only immediate treatment available is little more than an aid station. Therefore, by the time these victims reach military hospitals in Europe or elsewhere, their conditions are barely stable.

As a result, the medical bills in these cases are usually very high. The VA does not cover these expenses, since the injured victim is not a regular servicemember. Furthermore, most health insurance plans do not cover injury-related losses.

The 1941 Defense Base Act provides no-fault benefits which pay all reasonably necessary medical expenses in these situations. This category includes:

  • Transportation Expenses: A short medevac helicopter flight in the United States usually costs at least $40,000. A long medevac flight from a village in Afghanistan to a large hospital in Qatar could easily cost three or four times as much.
  • Emergency Care: A few hours in a stateside intensive care ward usually costs a few thousand dollars. These stays are much more expensive in foreign hospitals where sophisticated equipment and skilled professionals are hard to acquire.
  • Prescription Drugs: The medical bills keep piling up. After several thousand dollars at the hospital, victims must often pay almost as much for cutting-edge prescription drugs or medical devices.
  • Physical Therapy: No recovery is complete without physical therapy. That is especially true of brain injuries. These physical therapists must slowly and tediously train uninjured parts of the brain to assume lost functions.

Insurance company lawyers often use the “reasonably necessary” requirement to block payment, or at least delay it. For example, the insurance company often refuses to pay for some cutting-edge drug therapy regimens, like MDMA (Ecstasy) for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder victims.

Do not worry if the insurance company drags its feet. Attorneys can usually arrange for victims to receive top medical care at no upfront cost. These arrangements are easier to make in DBA cases, since these victims can choose their own doctors.

For more information about DBA eligibility, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.