As I have watched chaos ensue following the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, I have to say that these past few weeks have been a difficult time for me, as I’m sure it has been for others. As a veteran who served in Afghanistan, I can’t imagine a worse way to end this conflict.
Most people agree that America should withdraw from Afghanistan. However, the way U.S. forces exited the country is anything but honorable. We abandoned our allies and fellow citizens while empowering radical terrorists as they took over the country.
Let me be clear, the current situation is in no way the fault of the brave American service members who fought in Afghanistan. This is a leadership failure that extends to the highest levels of government.
Many of us who served in Afghanistan could’ve predicted the fall of the country. As a platoon leader in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, it was clear to me that Afghanistan would be taken over as soon as U.S. forces withdrew.
>>> WATCH: An Army veteran who served in Afghanistan breaks down the withdrawal.
Now if I, a soldier on the ground, could see that more than a decade ago, how could our leadership not? The answer is: they did, they just didn’t care.
For years, our military and government leaders patted themselves on the back while peddling the narrative that we built a strong Afghan military. In reality, the Afghan National Security Forces was wildly unprepared to engage in operations on its own.
The strength of the Afghan military relied on a close partnership with the U.S., and once we were no longer there to support it, it was doomed for failure.
I don’t say this to belittle the Afghan National Security Forces. I served alongside plenty of Afghans who were as brave and lethal as my soldiers. I say this because we set them up for failure.
The Afghan military was dependent of technology, intelligence, and air support provided by the U.S. This dependence stems from their training—we trained them to be like the American military, which is also dependent on technology, intelligence, and air support. Once those resources were gone, combat effectiveness quickly followed.
An incautious and haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan could only end with one result, the total collapse of the Afghan government. Sadly, that is exactly what we did and what we got.
I know it’s easy to Monday-morning quarterback a situation, but we need to examine how things could have been correctly managed.
After two decades of fighting in Afghanistan, the U.S. military was well positioned to facilitate an orderly withdrawal from the country. Utilizing our bases and remaining resources, we could have effectively evacuated all those who needed to leave. Furthermore, our forces would have been able to continue their support of the Afghan military with targeted strikes, intelligence, and supplies.
The Biden administration, however, decided against a phased withdrawal. It failed to prepare the Afghan government to sustain itself in the absence of U.S. forces. Instead, it decided we’d just pull our military out, ahead of U.S. civilians and allies, and hope for the best.
As we watched the Taliban speed across the country, taking city after city, we did nothing. As land that was held for years by Afghan and American forces was abandoned, we did nothing. As Kabul was surrounded and sacked, we did nothing. The U.S. government looked on dumbfounded as our citizens became hostages of the Taliban, and still it did nothing.
Where we are today is shameful and embarrassing. As I type, there are thousands of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies stuck in Afghanistan. Americans can’t reach the airport, former interpreters are being beaten in the streets, former Afghan military officers are being executed in their homes, and U.S. service members are dying.
While our service members are holding strong at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, chaos is rampant outside the airport gates. Tomorrow, they too will be withdrawn.
It’s obvious that our leaders have failed in their handing of our withdrawal. This is not acceptable.
History will judge the Biden administration and its handling of this situation. But right now, we need action. In just a few short hours, the U.S. military will once again pull out of Afghanistan, leaving an unknown number of Americans and allies stranded. We cannot accept a scenario where our citizens’ safety and security depend on the Taliban’s good graces.
We must surge resources to Afghanistan to ensure the safe passage of our citizens and allies from that country. The clock is ticking. Every minute we delay increases the likelihood of even more American deaths.
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