Afghanistan, strategically located between South, Central and West Asia has been invaded and fought over by the world’s superpowers for centuries. Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the British Empire, the Soviet Union have all tried and failed to control Afghanistan. And war rages in the country today: the US-led military coalition has been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, and conflict has become the longest war in US history.
Dawood Azami talks to the British, Russian, American and Afghan fighters and soldiers who fought in what some historians have called the Graveyard of Empires. He finds out what drew them to this formidable battlefield, what they found there, how they view their enemy and how their experience changed them as soldiers and as individuals.
Azami looks for patterns in history: the British fought three wars in Afghanistan in the 19th and 20th Century before they sent in troops after 2001. Some of the British servicemen were aware of their predecessor’s defeats as they came up against stiff Afghan resistance; as were the Taliban fighters.
From a US General whose ancestor also governed in Afghanistan in the 19th Century, and an infantryman caught up in a close quarter’s firefight with the Taliban, to a Mujahedeen fighter ambushing a Soviet military convoy in the mountains, Azami follows the twists and turns of conflict in Afghanistan.
Image: Afghan security personnel on a military vehicle, Credit: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images