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'No Choice': Why Afghans Keep Signing On for Deadly Duty

New York Times: Options are limited in war-torn country
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2019 2:06 PM CST
An Afghan security force member inspects the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Oct. 29, 2018.   (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

(Newser) – It's a tough choice people face in Afghanistan, where almost constant war has raged on for more than four decades: Keep fighting and sustaining massive casualties, or broker peace with the Taliban to end these mass deaths—and risk putting enemies into power who may then slaughter members of security forces they once fought. That's the dilemma outlined by the New York Times, which interviews people who've lost family members in law enforcement and the military. President Ashraf Ghani said last month that 45,000 security force members have died since he came to power in September 2014. Earlier this month alone, the Taliban killed 26 security force members on an air base in the province of Kunduz, per PBS.

Cops die at a higher rate than those in the military, because they're not armed as heavily and because they're the ones last left to defend remote outposts that get attacked, the Times notes. But for those who live in Afghanistan, there aren't many other options. "They had no choice except to join, because we have no other way to earn a living here," says Janat Bebe, a woman from the village of Shemal whose son and two grandsons were killed in combat last year; she's now responsible for helping take care of the 17 children they left behind. Her own husband died fighting the Soviets in the '80s. Still, money isn't the only reason people join: Patriotism is also a factor, and even Bebe says she hopes her five remaining grandsons and three great-grandsons will become recruits. "The country must be served," she says, adding that if she were younger, she'd suit up herself. (Read more dangerous jobs stories.)

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