Highly botched Afghanistan withdrawal and evacuation

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US soldiers attempt to hold a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 16 as thousands of Afghan nationals seek evacuation from the country. (Shekib Rahmani/AP)

Dear Sir

The United States believed the Afghan military would stand up to the Taliban, but over the years the Taliban has overcome Afghan forces in skirmishes in Afghanistan, and the Taliban showed its prowess when it conquered Afghanistan in the 90s.

On July 13, 2021, a month before the Taliban overran Afghanistan, ‘US embassy personnel apparently sent a cable’ to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warning him the Afghanistan government was collapsing and an evacuation of Americans and Afghans should start immediately.

I agree with the decision to leave Afghanistan, but the execution of the withdrawal was terrible. What is astonishing is we did not have a contingency plan to protect the Kabul area by keeping troops in a perimeter around Kabul allowing for the evacuation of diplomats, American citizens and Afghans.

If needed, another 10,000, or 20,000 or more troops and equipment should have been available for evacuation duty.

  • Why did we take a chance the Taliban would not overrun the country?
  • Why did we assume there would be an orderly withdrawal over an extended period?
  • Shouldn’t we plan for a worst-case scenario?

When I was in the intelligence division on a combined Navy staff we always incorporated worst-case contingency planning.

  • Why didn’t we have civilian and military aircraft available to airlift tens of thousands of people out of Afghanistan?
  • Why didn’t we have a plan to retain a presence at the vast and highly defensible facilities of the Bagram Air Base in case it would be needed as part of the withdrawal?

We rushed an Afghanistan withdrawal without comprehensive contingency planning. We have to support the National Resistance Forces in northern Afghanistan by supplying arms and material, which might keep the terrorists off balance and thwart attacks against us.

Donald Moskowitz

Londonderry NH  

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