I served as an Army advisor in Vietnam for 2 tours. As a civilian working for CARE, I was in Afghanistan while under Taliban control and later on the Afghan/Pakistan border just after 9/11. I listen to what Biden said the other day about his troop withdrawal and most of it I agreed with but I also listened to what the correspondent Richard Engel said. Mr. Engel has had boots on the ground in Afghanistan numerous times. Biden was speaking from the strategic level and Engle from the tactical level. Biden’s figures were wrong about the Afghan military. There are not 350,000 Afghan trained troops more like 100,000 and at the time rapidly dwindling. This seems to support Biden’s withdrawal strategy in that the Afghan military has shown no will to fight. But from a very dangerous tactical level and with limited US Embassy support there is little hope for the issuance of visas for those needing to leave IMMEDIATELY.
The Taliban have a parameter around the commercial airbase and thus can restrict entry for departure. I am not sure about Bagram. There have already been reports of Taliban abuse of those seeking to leave and indications are the Taliban are aggressively searching for members of the former regime. For the frightening long-term consequences, we have spent 20 years planting the seeds for democracy or efforts have improved women’s efforts to gain education and work in professional positions in the country. I saw on the TV today pictures or Taliban using paint rollers to blacken billboards of woman’s beauty parlors calling them “bordello’s”. Taliban today are standing outside the doors of woman’s homes making sure they do not leave to go anywhere. Biden should have considered the tactical in this poor decision.
I am a liberal democrat and voted for Biden against Trump. This was not and is not a mistake today. If Donald Duck was running against Trump, I would have voted for him quacking all the way to the voting booth. Biden has essentially turned his back on 20 million Afghan women and in my preceptive all women. The 2,500 US servicemen were not in harm’s way, protected in a firebase, but removing them was the straw that broke the camel’s back. In this lack of tactical thinking, Biden may have eliminated his possibility for a second term and may have muddled the mid-term elections for Democratic candidates. Maybe the Democratic party should be looking for someone else to run in the 2024 election.
Author of the memoir "A Life in Dark Places" I am a 2 tour public health advisor with international experience in over 35 countries in 40 years. Last position CDC Deputy Division Director for Global Disease Detection and Emergency Response.