It was the year 2001 when the United States trained their unmatched firepower towards the Taliban of Afghanistan. The Taliban had been accused of harbouring Al Qaeda fugitive Osama Bin Laden. This was happening scarcely one month after the September 11 attacks. A constant downpour of missiles, showers of fire and drizzles of projectiles intensified as the then President Bush warned Taliban of dire consequences. All Taliban military sites were in Bush’s crosshairs. The heavy pummeling saw Taliban bundled from power and put on the run. Their esteemed guests and buddies, The Al Qaeda, ran for the hills too. They retreated and then regrouped in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan. They then fomented insurgency. For example, Al Qaeda regrouped in the Shah-i-Kot Valley and tried to wage guerrilla warfare against the US military and her allies. The plan was unravelled and the US elected to nip it in the bud by launching what came to be known as the Operation Anaconda.
Several missions and battles were executed during this period. The most vivid of these was the Battle of Takur Ghar. It involved inserting Navy Seals on the Takur Ghar Mountain. The Seals were to provide a birds-eye view to the American Forces at the Foot of the Mountain who were now battling hardened Al Qaeda insurgents. The mission failed to materialise. The Helicopter that was supposed to drop them on the Mountaintop came under heavy fire just before it landed. Regrettably, one Navy Seal Roberts Ridge fell from the Helicopter as it flew to escape the Al Qaeda barrage. Ridge was now left behind the enemy lines. The Seals and their military planners had not anticipated this. The Al Qaeda had already taken positions on the Mountain contrary to what the US military planners had believed initially.
There are two significant observations from this bloody mess that suit the purpose of this post.
- The American Navy Seals employed all means to save their comrade Roberts Ridge.
- The dreaded US Rangers climbed the Mountain (a feat only witnessed in Hollywood film scenes) to protect the Navy Seals and their fellow Rangers who were now trapped on the top of the Mountain.
Whatever the outcome of the battle, the caring spirit displayed by soldiers who came back for their own is heartwarming.
We won’t leave you behind
Most militaries around the world have an ethos that requires soldiers to be their brother’s keeper. A good example is Israel. No Israel soldier leaves his or her buddy behind. Shoulder to shoulder they move.
These tenets compel them to do whatever is rationally possible in getting back either their fallen or wounded colleague. This is the spirit that binds them together as soldiers: That even in the worst of the circumstances, you are always sure your friends will try everything to get you back safely.
Am I my Brother’s Keeper?
The answer to the above question is a resounding yes! Cain is the man who posed this arrogant question to God. God did not have to answer him, as God does not answer arrogant questions and prayers. You are your brother’s keeper. You are to watch the back of your sister. As you put on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:18), remember your back is left uncovered, and am supposed to watch over it.
We are not created for ourselves. We are here to serve fellow human beings. Our purpose is to help one another reach their destination safely. We are instructed to hold the hands of those injured, nurse and help them recover. We are called to comfort each other, mourn with those mourning and celebrate with those celebrating.
We are one big family. Our numbers should count when needed. The warmth of the family is adequate to warm even the coldest among us. Petty and irrelevant religious, political and ethnic discourses can only put us asunder. The will of God is fulfilled when we pull and push in unison.
- Are there soldiers around us who have been wounded in the battles of life?
- What actions can we take to bring them back to the fold?
- What steps are we employing to help them live to fight again?
We are likely to hit rock bottom once in a lifetime. Occasionally we may hit a snag. Our revolvers can fail us and fire blanks. The injuries start bleeding: We are wounded, and we need emergency care. Who will answer? The rescue mission is for all of us.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger, and you invited me in, I needed clothes, and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Matthew 25:34-37 (NIV).