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Tags: afghanistan | bagram

Kabul Remains Our Avoidable National Shame

kabul afghanistan aftermath

The grandfather of Sohail Ahmadi, who was separated from his parents at the airport in the chaos of the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan - in August of 2021 - during an interview in Kabul - Jan. 9, 2022. This after Sohail was found on the ground at Kabul airport. (Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images)

Brig Gen (ret) Blaine Holt By Thursday, 07 July 2022 11:35 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The following column is the first of two parts.

This blog will be unique to all my posts because I am bringing you — great readers — into a story affecting me more deeply than I imagined.

We begin in Kabul, Afghanistan with a flurry of texts from an Air Force colleague, one whom I had shared a combat situation with years before.

"Sir, this is the hardest and saddest thing I have ever done in my life. The State Department should be fired; we are working over 100,000 displaced persons!" texted the exhausted colonel, who remains one of the great superstars I had the honor of serving with over my 27-year, Air Force career.

The date was Aug. 19, 2021.

The place was Afghanistan, a country being cashiered by our government.

The prior night the colonel could only make it to quarters by walking through tear gas and bullets.

Whether they were Afghan citizens, or Americans, or classified under other administrative statuses, they were getting crushed or killed, daring all to get on a flight out of the country before the Taliban took control.

Still, the colonel fell back on her training, offering first aid and comfort to military and civilians, despite witnessing the horrors of babies being trampled or handed to soldiers with pleas by mothers to take their babies to America.

Innocents were left for dead.

Calls and emails were already coming in.

Heroes all, this writer had served with needed a listening ear and shoulder to cry on.

They needed to talk to a friend who could understand what they were going through —a living hell.

I had barely a moment to process that this was happening.

Arguably, this is America’s worst military defeat. All avoidable. All unnecessary.

Offering grief counseling to my airmen was therapeutic, as was co-writing a letter of support to all the C-17 crews working the disastrous evacuation.

I felt an immense mixture of pride in the crews that took off with quadruple the maximum passengers possible; anger that America’s military leaders allowed the departure from Afghanistan to come down to this.

Imagine terrified Afghans falling to their deaths from your aircraft.

These people feared the return to Taliban control so much, they clung to the exterior of the C-17 with the firm belief that their odds of survival were still better than surrendering to the enemy, now flooding through Kabul and our former fortress, Bagram Air Base.

There is no training available in military aviation for the need to cycle your landing gear over the ocean so that corpses can be dropped to the sea.

My thoughts and prayers are with these men and women to this day!

The throngs of people and smell of fear outside the gate was palpable.

Fear. Raw fear.

Everyone waving Special Immigrant Visa cards or American passports, standing in sewer drains in their own waste, begging, to get into the airport.

In downtown Kabul, thousands more, became paralyzed with indecision about whether to get to the airport or remain in hiding. U.S. guidance was incoherent.

Imagine being an Afghan with your family standing in line outside the airport gates only to see lines of buses with tinted windows being escorted straight to an awaiting aircraft.

Who were these special people?

To this day, we still do not have a transparent accounting of who was given safe passage out of Afghanistan. The tragic part is that we left faithful friends of liberty behind — some Afghans had pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the empty promises of American green cards in exchange for help pushing back the Taliban.

An untold number remain behind with veteran and civilian American patriots working to free them. Pretty speeches from Washington, D.C. were not a thick enough veneer to spackle over the truth that our government obstructed these groups at nearly every turn.

Our generation’s "last-helicopter-leaving-Saigon" moment was tattooed to the national psyche. For 20 years, America’s warriors asked, "How does this end?"

Today, we ask, "Have we learned nothing?"

Accountability? Unless you call the gutting of an insubordinate Marine lieutenant colonel for speaking what we were all thinking, then there was none.

Not one resignation.

No one got fired. No one.

The following Autumn at a nondescript presser, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken almost annoyed, said in a wholly cavalier manner, "Now we owe it to ourselves, to our Afghan friends and partners, and to the future State Department employees who might find themselves facing a similar challenge one day to capture all that we learned, to study it, to apply it, to preserve it in a way that it enhances our future planning and helps us prepare better for future contingencies." The Georgetown professors must have beamed with pride.

Whether we hold our government up to the proper scrutiny or not, the world always watches. Our allies and partners looked on wondering what a commitment from America was worth.

Worse, our adversaries celebrated, greedily looking at the map in a whole new way. Opportunity had arrived.

Future death sentences for thousands in Ukraine were signed in blood in Kabul. The U.S. exited Afghanistan in disgrace, leaving behind billions in weapons and more importantly, our integrity.

When those towers fell in New York on that September day, this was not the end any of us expected; certainly not from the world’s most powerful nation.

To be continued…

Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Blaine Holt is a co-founder of Restore Liberty, former Deputy Representative to NATO, lifetime member on the Council on Foreign Relations and Newsmax Contributor. The views presented are those of the author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, or its components. Read Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Blaine Holt's reports — More Here.

© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Whether we hold our government up to the proper scrutiny or not, the world always watches. Our allies and partners looked on wondering what a commitment from America was worth.
afghanistan, bagram
Thursday, 07 July 2022 11:35 AM
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