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Musing about Afghanistan

 Post 28: 

  I have not posted for awhile.  That is mainly due to me not feeling like I had anything to communicate.  Today's post is 100% selfish on my part, and I am often asked about my opinion as a Combat Veteran about Afghanistan and the current closing of that chapter in America.

    I will start from the beginning.  I enlisted into the Army Reserve to a unit in Canandaigua NY in 1998.  On my way to basic training in August, I woke up at the hotel in Buffalo, NY.   This was the day I left for Basic Training.  The news that morning was the Embassy being bombings in Africa.  Months later, I graduated AIT at Fort Leonard Wood, and we were bombing radar stations in Iraq. 

    The next few years were quite as I recall, minus the Kosovo bombing campaigns we ran in 1999 to stop the genocides.  Next, the USS Cole bombing occurred a few months before I graduated ROTC.  I graduated college May of 2001.  I was honestly thinking, USSR was no more, we appear to have a lot of peace keeping missions like Bosnia and Sinai Peninsula rotations, this is a good time to be alive.  I did not dismiss the bombings that occurred, I could not connect them together in my head.  I knew they were connected, but I could not understand how.

    So my ignorance of thinking the cold war was gone, so cue up China as our next opponent.  I studied Asian History in College.  A professor I had was always sharing China Military news with us.  I remember a day in 1998 when he posted an article about China, pursuing air craft carriers and building up their blue water Navy power.

    When I received my commission I was given orders to serve in South Korea upon my completion of my Officer Basic Course.  It was a 1 year hitch that I did an 6 month extension on.  During that time of November 2001 to June of 2003, we did a thing called invade Iraq.  We also did a lot of door kicking in Afghanistan, but to be honest we did a huge amount in October.  The wars were raging on the Asian continent.

    To keep the tale short, I lost faith in my service to America as a soldier during the Iraq war ramp up.  Seeing Colin Powell in the UN blatantly lying turned me off.  From that moment on I viewed my service to this nation as purely mercenary.  I saw myself as a uniformed mercenary doing the bidding of our nations industry.  I began exploring other alternative philosophies and actually read books.  I was seeing the under belly of the beast. I saw the wasteful Government spending.  I was exposed to poor budget management by the military.  For those who are not exposed to Government budgeting, they never turn money back in at the end of the fiscal year.  Our government has a use or lose mindset.  If the budget is not over spent in this fiscal year, the following years budget will decrease.  So to play the game properly, one must spend more and more each year and build up your fiefdom.  I heard tax payers dollars often referred to as Disney Dollars by my first company commander in South Korea.  

    After South Korea I was sent to Alaska.  From there, I ventured over to Iraq twice.  Yes, I made a promise and I made an agreement, and just because I felt as a mercenary at this time it does not absolve me from the previous agreements I had made.  On one of my trips I was medevac'd back to Alaska to get reconstructive surgery on my right hand.  On my last trip over to Iraq I was living with the Iraqi Army as a transitional trainer.  At one point I was walking around Dohuk, Iraq with $20,000 cash in my cargo pockets.  This cash was to be spent on setting up the Iraqi Army Battalion.  All that was required from me was to provide receipts of the cash being spent.  So we bought the Iraqi's desks, vehicle parts, office supplies, and one point I bought them a lot of cleaning supplies.  That occurred several times, and I think at the end the dollar amount was lowered to $2,000 a month.  It has been a while, so my memory is foggy.  

    As I went further into my service, all I saw was three groups of military officers.  Those that recognized they had low skill sets outside the military so this was as good as it was going to get for them, they felt.  The second set was those who believed they were doing Americas work and spreading freedom to a Third World Country near you.  And lastly the group of people who were using their time to advance themselves politically and in life.  The higher you climb in the game, the more those lastly mentioned are there.

    So I will stop here with my service and begin to answer the question often asked of me as of late.  "Was Afghanistan Worth It?" or "Why did we end it like that?".  I am going to be honest, and sound like a lot of people.  No one cared about Afghanistan once the Iraq war kicked off.  It became forgotten.  I do know according to NPR the Taliban wanted to surrender during G.W. Bush's term, and those talks were ignored.  Still it took until B. Obama's term as president to get Osama Bin-Laden.  Even then the Taliban wanted to surrender to the United States and yet we ignored them.  We will find out in the future what we really wanted out of the Afghanistan conflict in later generations.  

    Knowing our enemy wanted to talk about terms of peace, it shows me we were not concerned about freedom.  It showed me we wanted total domination or we wanted longer access to some resource.  Fast forward to the ending months of the Trump Administration.  He announces our with drawl, then Biden comes into office.  Biden begins to withdraw our  forces down.  At this time, we knew there was an issue with evacuating Afghanistan people who helped us.  We knew of this issue with the interpreters as of March 2021.  Fast forward to August and we still had issues.  I can not blame this on losing Bagram Airfield.  I can blame this on the plan sucked and it was not a serious plan.  the plan was poorly executed and it belongs on the Stars involved.  I do not think you can hang this on Trump or Biden.  This embarrassment solely lies at the feet of the Generals.  Remember these Generals are most likely in the third group of people I discussed earlier.  they are only in it for themselves, and most likely are not people of principle and purpose.  

    Whom do I see responsible for this fiasco?  I hold every star (General) in the chain of command and planning level accountable.  I can not and will not hold our current President accountable, nor will I hold the previous accountable.  This is the militaries wheel house and they should have this burden squarely placed on their shoulders.  The warning signs were there with the lack of extraction of interpreters as previously mentioned.  A President is not the tactical nor technical expert in these matters.  This is why we have Generals, they are to provide the expertise, so instead of saying to the President, this is our wheel house, back off.  They instead protected their careers politically and did what was asked for.  They failed 13 Marines who lost their lives needlessly.  If the evacuations started earlier we would of relived a lot of compounding issues.  As we withdrew from areas those people whom we deemed refugee status should of been sent forward to Bagram Airfield.  

    The counter argument is, it would created a chaotic event and tipped our hand on evacuating people, and possible hit squads go out and kill the possible refugees.  I would counter with, possibly but that would of violated the agreement and possibly would of given us a platform to build up forces last minute and do extractions.  That would be against the Taliban wants and goals. 

    I am arm chairing quarter backing, and I do not understand the agreements made between the parties.  I am suggesting we could of started a expedited evacuation of people sooner in the more remote areas, and as we collapsed our outposts, we do the same.  Instead it appears we did not do that. We could sent the refugees to Puerto Rico and set up a temporary holding area to clear them, or utilized Military Bases we have in Europe to house portions of them.  There are other options on the table, and we could of sent small groups around to other bases, this is not new.  In the end our Generals failed the Afghans and they failed America.  

    

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