These Afghan women hunted the Taliban. Now they're working at Chick-fil-A.
A story that changed how I think about refugees. And women. (And Chick-fil-A!)
A decade ago, U.S. Special Operations forces trained up a platoon of elite female Afghan soldiers to accompany them on covert nighttime missions targeting Taliban and ISIS leaders.
Now, these 39 women are in America, scattered across 26 cities, trying to make sense of their past—and reconcile it with their present. “We started something important,” said Nafisa, a 25-year-old Platoon member now living in Atlanta and working as a barista. “And we lost everything, in a moment — the uniform, the power. The Taliban took our chance from us.”
I spent the past three months following Nafisa and other members of the Female Tactical Platoon for POLITICO Magazine. The experience scrambled all the ideas I had in my head about female soldiers, refugees and Afghan women. The story is out today.
In talking to them, it is clear that, one way or another, they are not done fighting. About half say they would like to join the U.S. military, if they can find a way to get green cards one day. Others dream of returning to their country to help the women and girls of Afghanistan.
For now, one woman is taking three English classes simultaneously in Pennsylvania. Another is doing mixed martial arts training in Washington state. Four are working at Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country (thanks to Aimee Hernandez, a Chick-fil-A owner in Pittsburgh who has been spreading the word about the women). All are trying — and sometimes failing — to find a new purpose in life that can begin to match their old one.
I hope you’ll let me know what you think of the story if you get a chance to read it this weekend. It takes some time, but it is worth it.
The paperback of High Conflict came out this week! It has been updated with wisdom from all sorts of people who got in touch with me after they read the hardcover: pastors, surgeons, bus drivers, school superintendents, interrogators…all kinds of people who live in conflict and have survival lessons for the rest of us.
I’m interested in hearing your stories about trying (and failing and trying again) to navigate conflict or make change in your neighborhood, your home, your place of worship. Wherever it is.
To ask for help with something, send How To! a note at email@example.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001. This week, we talked to bestselling novelist Anna Quindlen & CBS News reporter John Dickerson about the value of writing something (anything!) every day. Check it out here.