Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Retired Green Beret Won’t Give Up Fight to Deliver Afghan Commando Who Fought Taliban to Safety

Retired Green Beret won’t give up fight to deliver Afghan commando who fought Taliban to safety:
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 marked the start of retired Green Beret John Paluska’s fight to keep his Afghan brother in arms, Habib, from facing a gruesome death at the hands of the Taliban. After Habib found temporary reprieve by getting himself to Turkey, Paluska flew to Istanbul to find his friend a pathway to safety in the US. Unfortunately, he found that Habib’s journey to freedom is far from over.
Before playing a role in the Global War on Terror’s devastating aftermath, Paluska was involved in many of its earlier developments. Six days into his freshman year at Fordham University in September 2001, Paluska jumped aboard a New York City subway train to reach the smoking rubble of the Twin Towers to volunteer with the rescue and recovery efforts.
That October, he began the Army enlistment process. On the 13th day of Paluska’s first combat deployment, an IED explosion left 160 pieces of shrapnel embedded in his body. His recovery lasted nine months, but the proliferation of shrapnel – and lingering effects of inhaling the putrid smoke at Ground Zero – would eventually force Paluska to medically retire in 2017. During the interim, he earned his commission and joined the Green Berets.
Paluska met Habib while the men were together at a forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan’s Ghazni province in 2013. Habib was an intelligence sergeant in an elite Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC) unit. Because of his strong English, Habib developed friendships with Paluska and other Green Berets.
Fox News Digital
The Green Berets’ ANASOC counterparts were vital in conducting joint operations, building rapport with leaders, and establishing which civilians had ill intent. “We relied solely on Afghan partners for our safety… to the point where they would say ‘Americans, stay back, this is too dangerous,’” Paluska explained. Habib and his Afghan teammates routinely placed themselves between Americans and enemy fighters, taking bullets meant for Americans on “a few occasions,” Paluska said.
After Paluska left Ghazni, Habib and his team continued fighting. War depleted their numbers drastically. By the time of the US withdrawal, Paluska estimated that “nearly half the Afghan team that I served with had died.”
In the televised chaos of the Taliban’s rapid takeover, Paluska said he “thought of one person, and that was Habib. I knew that I had to go and save his life.” He reached out to Habib, and began moving him closer to known evacuation zones. Unfortunately, Habib was one of hundreds of thousands left behind by the initial US noncombatant evacuation operation. When Paluska recognized there would be no US government effort to continue evacuations, he said it “crushed me, it crushed my teammates, [and it] crushed so many of the military veterans who have served alongside some of the bravest men and women across Afghanistan.”
Habib’s life changed overnight. He could no longer work or casually leave his home. Despite publicly declaring amnesty for their enemies, the Taliban began a quiet yet brutal reprisal campaign. Paluska has seen Habib’s name on Taliban kill lists identifying former Afghan government and military targets.
Paluska remains concerned that Habib’s biometric data may reside on systems that Habib has seen the Taliban utilizing at checkpoints outside of cities. A Defense Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital that all US biometric devices utilized in Afghanistan have been accounted for, and that the Taliban cannot access US databases. The spokesperson stated it was likely the devices the Taliban found were “procured for Afghan forces to use with their own biometric databases,” and further explained that the department “took measures to limit access to Afghan automated systems in July and August 2021.” --->READ MORE HERE
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