HERAT PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN -- Our Fox News' "War Stories" team has moved to a former Soviet military base in western Afghanistan, about 50 miles from the Iranian border. We're now with the 207th Afghan Commando Battalion and their U.S. Special Operations Command, Army and Marine counterparts. This remarkable unit celebrated the 89th anniversary of Afghanistan's independence from Great Britain this week with a capture-kill mission on a Taliban stronghold.
In Khost, 400 miles east of here, near the border with Pakistan, Taliban terrorists observed the anniversary by killing 11 of their countrymen in a suicide car bomb attack against a U.S. base and followed up with a human wave of suicide bombers unsuccessfully storming Camp Salerno. In Kabul, President Hamid Karzai and U.S. officials commemorated the end of British rule with a quiet memorial ceremony for those killed in the current fight for a free Afghanistan, which has gone on for seven years.
Here in the "Forgotten War," Islamic radicals -- the Taliban and al-Qaida -- are making a major push to destabilize the Karzai government. According to Afghan officials, foreign fighters are flowing across the porous border with Pakistan and enemy attacks are up more than 50 percent from a year ago. This week, 10 French soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack outside the capital. As usual, few in the so-called mainstream media bothered to note any of this.
Though American and coalition casualties have been nearly seven times higher in Afghanistan than in Iraq during the past four months, the campaign against a resurgent Taliban remains widely underreported in the U.S. press. That's why so many of our countrymen are unaware of the courage, commitment and sacrifice demonstrated by the 32,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines serving and fighting in the shadows of the Hindu Kush. Their stories are profoundly stirring. Herewith, a few recent examples:
On July 23, 2007, Lance Cpl. Garrett Jones was a fire team leader on patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, when an improvised explosive device detonated practically beneath him, shredding his left leg. At the hospital, surgeons amputated the shattered limb above the knee to save his life.
Today Garrett Jones is a corporal -- still with 2/7 -- and serving here in Afghanistan. In less than a year, he has suffered life-threatening wounds; recuperated from surgery; endured rehabilitation; been fitted with a prosthetic leg; proved that he can perform in combat; and returned to duty. An avid snowboarder, he plans to compete in the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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