Part 2: The Lessons Of Afghanistan

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Lieutenant Sean Parnell of the 10th Mountain Division had never been in combat before, but he found himself leading 40 men in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan back in 2006.

They were up against seasoned, fierce, professional fighters whose only goal was to kill Americans. 

On his return from Afghanistan, Sean promised his men he'd tell their story and he has done that in a book called 'Outlaw Platoon.'

7 News anchor Anne Richter spoke at length with Parnell - excerpts from the conversation air Wednesday and Thursday nights on 7 News This Evening and our late newscasts.

Here's Anne's report for Part 2:

"The chaos kaleidoscopes around you and scrambles your senses. In later fights, I learned to stay grounded. In this one, I didn't know enough to do anything but be a prisoner of the chaos."

- excerpt from 'Outlaw Platoon'

Sean Parnell was 24 years old and in a remote outpost along Afghanistan's eastern frontier when the bullets started flying. 

They didn't stop for 16 long months. 

Parnell and his men were members of the 'Outlaw Platoon.' 

"Our love and brotherhood that we had with one another was the only thing we could truly rely on and what we knew would keep us safe in combat and our only hope of actually coming out alive," said Sean.

For Sean Parnell, fear was a constant companion. 

"What I tried to do is show that every combat leader tries to project strength, but the inner monologue is happening inside them is like, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm petrified. What am I going to do if I make a wrong decision. What am I going to do if one of my decisions gets one of my soldiers killed.

Anne asked Sean what message he would have for President Obama if he could sit down with him one on one.

"I think right now what we need to do is evaluate our strategy and change back to a counter-terrorism strategy that we implemented in 2001 to 2004.  The worst thing that could happen to this country today is a nuclear weapon from Pakistan falling into the hands of nation-less terror cell and then that nation-less terror cell using that weapon to attack the United States," said Sean.

Anne asked Sean what he thinks of Afghan President Harmid Karzai? 

"I think that he could do more to unite Afghanistan under under a common banner. They need a leader that will stand up and unify their country and Hamid Karzai is not that person," said Sean.

Sean Parnell provides a 'boots on the ground' perspective of the war in Afghanistan and he worries about what were to happen if and when coalition forces leave.

"Thousands of Afghans will die if we pull out tomorrow. And I tried to show the depth at which our enemy will go to strike fear into the hearts of local national Afghans. Women and children will be tortured and killed. Anybody that was friendly or worked for the coalition or worked for the Americans would be torturned and killed and made examples of and I don't think any American wants to see that happen," said Sean.

On Thursday, Anne will speak with Sean about the emotional toll of war and what has become of the men of the 10th Mountain Division's 'Outlaw Platoon.'

Watch Part 1 of Anne's report

(Interested in the book? Read an excerpt from it, and more comments from Parnell, here.)

We've posted the entire interview with Sean, starting here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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