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As the world moves on, veterans of the Afghanistan withdrawal struggle to join them

daftandbarmy

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Bad exit, in twists....



Sgt. Ben Johnson was standing outside the main terminal of the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul when the two young Afghan women approached. He immediately noticed how beautiful they were, and in near-perfect English, they asked him to let them through.

It was days into the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, and Johnson — a soldier who deployed with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and is being identified by a pseudonym by Task & Purpose at his request — was tasked with moving concertina wire for military vehicles driving into the airport. The women, who he estimated to be somewhere between 17 and 21 years old, were just two of thousands with the same dire request: Please, save us. He explained to the women that he couldn’t let them in. If he did, he’d have to let everyone else through, too. He told them to go to the South Gate. If they had a chance of getting in anywhere, it was there.

“They were like, ‘They won’t let us go back that way. They’ll kill us,” Johnson recalled them saying of the Taliban, who were standing just feet away.

“I didn’t want the Taliban to do anything to them, but then they also couldn’t get through my gate,” he said. “So I finally get them out and I’m yelling at the Taliban, like take these girls out of here. And they go behind the wall and kill them.”

It wasn’t the last time he would witness the Taliban execute someone for getting in their way, causing trouble, or for no apparent reason at all. But there wasn’t much he could do. The Taliban had taken over Kabul and by extension, control of Afghanistan. And as the U.S. and its allies worked around the clock to evacuate civilians from the country, they’d entered into a tense agreement of sorts with the Taliban to ensure safe passage to HKIA for those attempting to leave. The U.S. and its allies would control the airport while the Taliban was controlling checkpoints on the roads leading to its gates.

When the two women were killed, Johnson recalled that his platoon sergeant — who he called the best leader he’s served under in the military — told him it would be okay to go sit down for a moment.

“I didn’t want to,” Johnson said. “Because then I knew I would have time to process and register what just happened. I was like no, I’m going to stay busy. I can deal with emotions and thoughts when this is all over with.”

 

Good2Golf

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If ever an example of the crushing/demoralizing impact on those at the threshold between order and chaos, this has to be one.

Also easy to see why many become jaded when they hear some politician/bureaucrat yipping about ‘making tough decisions’/‘just following the policies’ from thousands and thousands of miles away, as though they ‘feel the frustrations’ too…
 

Humphrey Bogart

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If ever an example of the crushing/demoralizing impact on those at the threshold between order and chaos, this has to be one.

Also easy to see why many become jaded when they hear some politician/bureaucrat yipping about ‘making tough decisions’/‘just following the policies’ from thousands and thousands of miles away, as though they ‘feel the frustrations’ too…
Why do you think I'm so cynical about everything I'm told?

I've listened to this record before:

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You can only be lied to so many times before you have to start asking if you're just a sucker for buying the company line over and over again?
 

Good2Golf

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Sadly, the effort/dedication of the great majority of servicemen and women is, IMO, not anywhere close to being reciprocally respected/treated well by those who see them and control them in many cases as pawns/part of the ‘pin-count’/‘flag count’ game.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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Sadly, the effort/dedication of the great majority of servicemen and women is, IMO, not anywhere close t
being reciprocally respected/treated well by those who see them and control them in many cases as pawns/part of the ‘pin-count’/‘flag count’ game.
No kidding.

Every time I hear a Politican or Govt Official tell me "We need to do X" my response nowadays is "great, you first".

Unchecked Jingoism is extremely dangerous.
 

FormerHorseGuard

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seeing the pictures blaming Biden for this disaster is kind of incorrect in my mind. Then President Trump made a deal back in Feb 2020 to remove the troops by May 2021. The next President was hand tied to the deal and Biden extended the deal till Sept 2021. Trump announced deal in a speech to Conservative Political Action Conference, 29 Feb 2020. Deal was officially announced in May 2020. This was no shock or surprise 20 years was enough for the American government and people. Right or wrong the deal was made.
www.verifythis.com/article/news/verify/afghanistan/afghanistan-troops-withdraw-deal-taliban-trump-biden/536-a68f951a-6bfe-4408-9d3b-96e85e425e45
 

KevinB

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seeing the pictures blaming Biden for this disaster is kind of incorrect in my mind. Then President Trump made a deal back in Feb 2020 to remove the troops by May 2021. The next President was hand tied to the deal and Biden extended the deal till Sept 2021. Trump announced deal in a speech to Conservative Political Action Conference, 29 Feb 2020. Deal was officially announced in May 2020. This was no shock or surprise 20 years was enough for the American government and people. Right or wrong the deal was made.
www.verifythis.com/article/news/verify/afghanistan/afghanistan-troops-withdraw-deal-taliban-trump-biden/536-a68f951a-6bfe-4408-9d3b-96e85e425e45
Not really, the Taliban violated the agreement multiple times, so it would have been easy for President Biden to walk it back, at least until the Taliban where adherents to their part of the agreement.

Furthermore President Biden ignored advise from both his Sec Def and CJS about how the withdrawal should be conducted.
 

rmc_wannabe

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Not really, the Taliban violated the agreement multiple times, so it would have been easy for President Biden to walk it back, at least until the Taliban where adherents to their part of the agreement.

Furthermore President Biden ignored advise from both his Sec Def and CJS about how the withdrawal should be conducted.
I also think the fact the GoIRA was cut out completely in the withdrawal agreements was a huge part of the Taliban breaking their promise.

The deal allowed the Americans to save face and the Taliban to gain some legitimacy. The biggest loser was Ghani, who had no mechanism to get help or assistance once the Americans left. This is why the ANA were left with no food, fuel, bullets, or support in their defence of their homeland. A lot of them were willing to fight and had the training and experience to at least put up a valiant resistance. I argue any NATO army put in a similar position would have collapsed at the same rate.

In the end, this war was started by politicians, fought by soldiers, and lost by politicians. It's the soldiers who bear the true cost of this war.
 

rmc_wannabe

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Personally I think both the USA and Canada severely fucked it up.
I wholeheartedly agree. I remember watching the chaos unfold at HKIA and feeling as though it was rsther symbolic if the whole 20 year affair; no planning, no objectives, no cooperation - just people "doing things for the sake of looking involved." And ofcourse, much like in the whole conflict, people were tragically killed in the process.

It's beyond frustrating, especially as someone who believed heavily in what we were trying to accomplish in Afghanistan.
 

OldSolduer

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I wholeheartedly agree. I remember watching the chaos unfold at HKIA and feeling as though it was rsther symbolic if the whole 20 year affair; no planning, no objectives, no cooperation - just people "doing things for the sake of looking involved." And ofcourse, much like in the whole conflict, people were tragically killed in the process.

It's beyond frustrating, especially as someone who believed heavily in what we were trying to accomplish in Afghanistan.
It also tells the world we can’t be trusted
 

Halifax Tar

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I wholeheartedly agree. I remember watching the chaos unfold at HKIA and feeling as though it was rsther symbolic if the whole 20 year affair; no planning, no objectives, no cooperation - just people "doing things for the sake of looking involved." And ofcourse, much like in the whole conflict, people were tragically killed in the process.

It's beyond frustrating, especially as someone who believed heavily in what we were trying to accomplish in Afghanistan.

I always thought the movie War Machine (2017) gave a good if not satirical look at the governance of the Afghan war.

 
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KevinB

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On a Micro scale the movie Hyena Road was a good example. Discounting its other inaccuracies, At least three different wars being fought and non of the Governments seemed to understand it.
 
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