In a Pentagon briefing following the tragic deaths of at least a dozen U.S. Marines and an unknown number of Afghan civilians Thursday, Gen. Frank McKenzie dropped a bomb shell of his own.
The man in charge of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan ― and now the retreat being engineered in the cou9ntry ― McKenzie admitted that U.S. intelligence services ae sharing classified information about pending attacks with the Taliban fighters now in control of the country.
These are the people we were bombing, killing and trying to stop from taking over the country less than 30 days ago. Now we’re trusting them with intelligence information, hoping they will stop more attacks from taking place?
Excuse me, I think I’ve walked into an alternative universe here. can someone show me the exit? We don’t even know if the Taliban let the bombers and gunmen walk up to the airport so they could kill Americans, and we’re sharing intelligence with them! This administration is not remotely in touch with reality at any level.
It is the deadliest day for Americans in the country in over a decade.
At least two suicide bombers and ISIS gunmen killed our Marines and Afghan injured 15 others, both Americans and Afghan civilians, outside the Abbey Gate on the south side pf the international airport in Kabul early Thursday afternoon local time. Their deaths add to the worldwide perception of utter failure on the part of Joe Biden and his administration in botching the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“This is just surreal,” Iraq and Afghanistan veteran David Sears told America’s Conservative Voice Thursday afternoon. “How do we reconcile that our enemies are now apparently trusted allies? How have we made the transition from wanting them dead to sharing intelligence with them?”
Sears, who now works in defense intelligence for the U.S. military, clearly was flabbergasted by the turn of events.
Not that isn’t surprising. The drastically changing narrative on an almost-hourly basis out of Kabul the past week have been chaotic and disturbing. Sears noted we have gone from being told the Taliban would not take control of Afghanistan for “60-90 days,” according to Biden’s State Department, to waking up three days later to be told they were in control of most of the country.
The Taliban has made several statements over the last few days that stretch the limits of credulity. They have claimed there is no evidence Osama bin Laden had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks, denied killing or injuring innocent civilians and that they have nothing to do with the resurgence of ISIS or al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Conflicting information about what airport gates were open, whether U.S. citizens and at-risk Afghans should stay put in the city or try to get to the airport and whether the Taliban were going to give safe passage to all of them has floated around since a week ago.
Now we have contracted security responsibilities out to a terrorist organization. It is nothing short of insanity. It was just this past April Gen. McKenzie was expressing “grave doubts” about the Taliban’s trustworthiness as a negotiating partner in the withdrawal talks that were taking place at the time.
“We need to see what they’re going to do here,” McKenzie told a US House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill April 19. “If they want any form of future international recognition for Afghanistan … they’re going to have to keep the agreements that they’ve made.”
Now, supposedly, they’re providing security at the airport perimeter. That’s one agreement they haven’t kept. But of course, according to their spokesmen, its our fault because we’re foreign fighters on their soil.
Over the past several days, U.S. military personnel have voiced concerns over information that al-Qaeda and ISIS were making a comeback in the rural parts of Afghanistan. Those concerns were obviously well-founded, based on the day’s events.
Oddly, Biden made no appearance nor issued any statements for several hours after the initial reports of the bombings. He finally made an appearance before TV cameras shortly after 5:00 p.m. ET Thursday, claiming he will order the U.S, military to hunt down and kill those who ordered the attack, but was quite vague about extending his self-imposed deadline, which is next Tuesday. Biden gave no indication it wou9ld change, only that “if our military asks for more troops and equipment, we’ll get it to them.”
There are so many problems with the mission as defined by the Pentagon that make it difficult to achieve success.
Kabul International Airport is not defensible. Calling I an “international” airport would be a joke if not for the fact it actually originates may international flights. It has only two stone buildings serving as a terminal and a maintenance facility.
The airport is the epicenter of a chaotic scramble to escape the country for tens of thousands of people — including international workers, Afghan interpreters and women now at risk under Taliban rule. There are more than 25,000 people surrounding the airport trying to get a flight out of the country.
Biden unwisely set an early withdrawal date rather than waiting for winter to arrive when fighting in the rugged mountainous nation is put on hiatus. Waiting until November or December would have aided the U.S. in orchestrating a better-organized and safer withdrawal.
Now Biden won’t even use the excuse provided by the bombing to delay completing the withdrawal beyond next Tuesday. Where he could simply say to the Taliban, “You failed to uphold your end of the bargain in handling security outside the airport, so all bets are off,” he is choosing to force U.S. Forces to leave whether they are ready or not. And they will not be ready.
In fact, his idiotic timeline will likely leave stranded thousands of American citizens, at-risk Afghan allies and others who should not be abandoned to the vicious and barbaric Taliban.
That is completely unacceptable. There is nothing in the Taliban’s history that indicates they will continue to allow Americans and our allies to leave the country after the troops are gone. Yet we are hearing Thursday from the White House a defense of the Taliban and excuses as to why it is no big deal to leave Americans behind.
It is one thing for our military men and women to make the decision to go in harm’s way and make the ultimate sacrifice. It is quite another to face the possibility of making that sacrifice as a civilian because your government failed you and left you behind.
The area in and around Kabul’s airport has become increasingly perilous over the last six days, with almost 280 people believed to have died from stampedes or gunshots in the last week. Massive crushes of humanity have occurred near Kabul’s airport, accounting for more than half those deaths, a spokesperson for the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in an interview with Fox News Thursday.
One crush took place outside the airport itself while another happened outside the Baron Hotel, where the second bomber Thursday set off his device.
“Conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible,” the MoD spokesperson added.
The US has so far evacuated 87,000 people since August 14, a day before Kabul fell into Taliban hands. Out of those, 9,500 of them are US citizens, Gen. Hank Taylor, Deputy Director of the Joint Staff for Regional Operations said Thursday. Elsewhere, the British Armed Forces have evacuated nearly 6,000 people since August 13, the U.K.’s MoD said in a tweet Wednesday.
Other countries — including Canada, Italy, Germany, France, Turkey and Australia — have also evacuated people.
At the Ramstein U.S. Air Base in southwestern Germany, flights of evacuees have been arriving at roughly 90-minute intervals all week long. With a capacity of 5,000 people, one of the largest U.S. air base in Europe was filling up fast with people sheltering in temporary tents before continuing their journey to the U.S. as quickly as possible
The U.S. military hopes to evacuate 5,000 to 9,000 people per day, but so far has not met that goal. It faces massive challenges as it works towards that heavily-criticized August 31 deadline.
Among those criticizing the U.S. withdrawal is former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was leader when his country helped the U.S. push the Taliban from power in 2001.
“The abandonment of Afghanistan and its people is tragic, dangerous, unnecessary, not in their interests and not in ours,” Blair wrote last week in an article published on his Institute for Global Change think tank website.
He added that the decision to pull troops out of the country had been done “in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars.'”
Mike Nichols is a conservative, a patriot, U.S. Army veteran, licensed professional counselor, political enthusiast, sports fan and writer living with his beautiful wife Liz in the Heartland. He has a regular blog at America’s Conservative Voice on Substack and a Facebook presence at Americas Conservative Voice-Facebook.