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America: September, 2021

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Blame Brigade

So now Afghanistan has reverted back to the stone age, Kabul is lost, and the nation again becomes a  backwater of venomous internecine killing fields.  The trillion dollar trained national army turned  and ran for the hills, leaving behind priceless military equipment, the moment the ragged savages appeared.  At which point the highly trained and equipped national armed forces seemingly pissed in their pants and ran screaming in terror.  According to an Afghan General, the problem was due to government corruption, a failure to deliver food, ammunition, pay, air cover and coordination.  The troops lost faith in their leadership, felt abandoned, and abandoned their posts.  Bloody Fucking Hell!  And unbelievably we sent in the helicopters, again, to evacuate the Embassy while terrified personnel frantically shredded piles and piles of paper and wacked hard drives with hammers.  Primitive, very sadly primitive!  I can just hear Betty Davis cynically saying, "WHAT a fuckup!"

OH the finger pointing is in high gear with shrill Republicans screeching their heads off trying to blame Democrats for pissing in their morning coffee.  (Now there's an idea).  But seriously, if your country was about to be taken over by the boogeymen, wouldn't you stand and fight fiercely like an Israeli?  Or would you abandon your brand new Humvee, rip off your uniform, and run half naked to the Iranian border?  WHAT kind of  pusillanimous poltroons were our hero warriors risking their lives training?

And the historically repetitive scene unfolded yet again, just as it had in Shanghai in December of 1941, as millions ran through the streets in terror, flooding the port desperately looking for a way out.  And Saigon in 75, and Rwanda, and Phnom Penh, Warsaw, an endless list.  And now Kabul airport where hordes of totally crazed people clung to the outside of an Air Force cargo plane as it took off, falling to their deaths from the sky, or getting crushed in the wheel wells.  And rushing a commercial jet, ticketless, climbing over each other until it was so overloaded it couldn't take off and they refused to debark. Seriously!  What the Hell?  The insurgent forces were so freaked out by the panic that they actually tried to be nice!

Of course, this does not happen everywhere.  I saw the Philippine Revolution that ousted Marcos on TV.  There was no panic, no guns, no thunder of helicopters and no explosive thuds of mortars.  Instead, a million peaceful people surrounded a huge military base, set up a gigantic sound system and blasted Neal Sedaca songs into the base.  Entire brigades of sentimental soldiers burst into tears, threw down their weapons and emerged from the base to embrace and hug the protestors.  Seeing that, the Marcos family fled to the airport with suitcases stuffed with money; and that was that.  Sure, it was nuts and made no sense; but it was a helova lot better that a highly trained army tearing off their uniforms and running half naked in terror to the Iranian border.  The new petit  Philippine President, Corazon Aquino, spent her first night on the balcony of the Presidential Palace throwing thousands of elegant shoes into the darkness, shouting in disgust, "size 9, size 9, size 9...."

Meanwhile, the treasonous Republicans, foaming at the mouth with glee, could not have celebrated the Afghan debacle with greater joy than if they had planned the whole thing in cahoots with the enemy.  Moscow Mitch nearly broke his fat neck rushing in front of the TV cameras to harrumph in apoplectic ecstasy.

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Tough Fight, Tough Decision

By LTC Steve Loomis

Emotions welled up in me as I watched thousands of Afghanis crowd the gates of Kabul International airport desperate to get out ahead of the Taliban takeover. Fathers clutching their daughters, sons, and wives to get them on an evacuation plane to freedom. Some even handed their babies to strangers to get them out of the country. Then I watched that fully loaded C-17 Globemaster taxying with hundreds more Afghanis trying desperately to hang on to the landing gear. I could not have been the pilot that had to make that decision to take off. Next came the suicide bombing at an airport gate killing 13 young American service members and hundreds of Afghanis.

I remember another terrible moment during Operation Babylift at the end of the war in Vietnam. As South Vietnam collapsed, a C-5A Galaxy took off from Tan Son Nhut airport in 1975 with 314 onboard including orphaned Vietnamese babies destined for adoption in the U.S. and allies. It crashed and 138 died, including 78 children. I remember the remote 1965 jungle battle of the Ia Drang Valley, where we nearly lost an airmobile battalion. That battle foretold of a long, drawn-out fight with the North Vietnamese Army. For me, the hardest most demanding time during the Vietnam War, was after I returned stateside to train more young infantrymen to go to Vietnam as the war wound down. We gave them our best realistic training and wondered, would they come back having done their duty, or in body bags, or as unsung heroes?

In Afghanistan, during the battle of Kamdesh in a mountainous valley, the Combat Outpost Keating was nearly overrun before finally being ordered abandoned by the commanders. That battle foretold the danger of fighting in this distant land-locked country with its reputation as the “graveyard of empires.” Afghanistan became a deja vu of Vietnam.

Sure, we could have continued for another 10 or 20 years, spent another trillion dollars, lost another 4000 American military and civilian men and women trying to establish a democracy and/or trying to deny Afghanistan as a terrorist base. Still, we would have lost the fight for Afghanistan and the fight for the hearts and minds of Americans. It was time to bring our American heroes home! It was time to evacuate our Afghan hero allies and their families<.

Should we have gotten out – yes! Should we have done a better job planning our exit – yes! Now that we are out, we must remember the experiences of Vietnam and Afghanistan, learn from those experiences, thank our selfless heroes, living and dead who are veterans of this 20-year war, and their families who served at home while they served abroad.

Lieutenant Colonel Loomis is retired in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is a graduate of the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor’s in University Studies in Journalism. During his Army career, he served in the Infantry, Engineers and as Inspector General and was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, two Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, four Meritorious Service Medals, the Air Medal and numerous other medals.

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