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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Honoring the Promise: #TaskForcePineapple Undeterred in Getting Our Allies Out of Afghanistan

It began with a plea from one Afghan commando to his American brothers in arms. As Afghanistan was falling to the Taliban, he was targeted for working shoulder-to-shoulder with American forces.

It began with a plea from one Afghan commando to his American brothers in arms. As Afghanistan was falling to the Taliban, he was targeted for working shoulder-to-shoulder with American forces. The situation was a certain death sentence for him and his family, but the Americans had another plan. The American spirit was tapped and former Special Operations Forces, SEALs, and Green Berets came out of retirement to answer his call.

That’s not all. After they saved him and his family of six, they went back in to save hundreds more of those who served with American troops in the 20-year conflict in Afghanistan. But it is not only people they are saving. They are preserving the very highest American ideals. They are honoring promises made to our allies, supporting our government’s commitments, and demonstrating leadership in turmoil.

The Pineapple Task Force (a name dubbed from the code image the commando used) is an organic, leaderless effort by veterans who have come together to honor the promises they made to their Afghan partners and to assist the younger generation of the U.S. military up to the very last minute they were on the ground. Our military has officially left but our veterans have not. The rescue operation has transitioned to a recovery operation and they remain committed, still, to leave no one behind – dead or alive.

Those who get out alive are being resettled, have been highly vetted and they have demonstrated their commitment to our values – with their lives. That’s more than most native-born Americans are asked to do.

Some have called the pullout a disaster (thereby destabilizing our own democracy and playing into adversarial narratives) while others have called staying in Afghanistan a quagmire repeating itself. Either way, both those perspectives lead to despair. There is a third way: the American Way. Look to those who are “running toward the sound of gunfire.” They are showing us the way.





Ajit Maan
Ajit Maan
Ajit Maan, Ph.D. writes the Narrative & National Security column for Homeland Security Today featuring her original work and work by guest experts in narrative strategy focused on identifying active narratives, who is behind them, and what strategies they are deploying to manipulate and muddy facts to the detriment of America. She is founder and CEO of the award-winning think-and-do-tank, Narrative Strategies LLC, Adjunct Professor at Joint Special Operations University, Professor of Politics and Global Security, Faculty at the Center for the Future of War, and member of the Brain Trust of the Weaponized Narrative Initiative at Arizona State University. She is also author of seven books including Internarrative Identity: Placing the Self, Counter-Terrorism: Narrative Strategies, Narrative Warfare, and Plato’s Fear. Maan's breakthrough theory of internarrative identity came in 1997; she published a book by the same name in 1999 which was released in its second edition in 2010 (with the addition of the subtitle Placing the Self). Internarrative identity deals with one’s sense of identity as expressed in personal narrative, connecting the formation of identity with one assigns meaning to one’s life experiences. Maan’s theories are influenced by Paul Ricoeur’s writings in narrative identity theory, and she cites several of his works in her book (Maan, Internarrative Identity: Placing the Self 90). The connection between the interpretation of personal narrative in relation to the larger social group seems to be a key factor in the work of both Maan and Ricoeur. She states that “Following Ricoeur, I’ve argued that who one is and what one will do will be determined by the story one sees oneself as a part of. Going further than Ricoeur, I have suggested that a genuinely imaginative theory of narrative identity would be inclusive of alternatively structured narratives” (Maan, Internarrative Identity: Placing the Self 71-72). This seems to indicate that Maan believes that identity influences behavior, but she also recognizes that one can be constrained by society to accept a self-narrative that fits within existing cultural norms. After establishing herself through her work on Internarrative Identity, Maan has now turned her attention to the analysis of narrative as a means of understanding (and combating) terrorist recruitment tactics. Her 2014 book, Counter-Terrorism: Narrative Strategies, examines the scripts perpetuated by a wide range of terrorist organizations while also making important interdisciplinary connections between studies in the humanities and current world events (a workbook companion to the text was published in 2018). She collaborated with the late Brigadier General Amar Cheema on the edited volume titled Soft Power on Hard Problems: Strategic Influence in Irregular Warfare, published in 2016. Maan's 2018 book, titled Narrative Warfare, is a collection of articles examining the topic of weaponized narrative; her 2020 book, Plato's Fear, examines the relationship between narrative and power. Her work was the focus of Representations of Internarrative Identity, a 2014 multi-authored scholarly monograph dedicated to the exploration of Internarrative Identity through diverse fields of study and from international perspectives. In addition to her contributions to academia, Maan has been active in sharing her knowledge with a wider audience thereby uniting military and academic experts in the cause of eradicating violent extremism around the world.

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