EP002: AFGHANISTAN, PT2

BATTLE LAB PODCAST

EPISODE 002

TRANSCRIPT

Welcome back to Battle, our podcast, this is Episode two, and I’m your host, Sean Swanson. Thanks again for being with me. In this episode. We’re going to again look at Afghanistan, but instead of a 30,000 foot view, we’re going to look at the ground level view and what it means for folks to be operating in that crisis environment. As of today, the 23rd of August 2021, there are two specific things that we need to look at on the ground. One, the departure of U.S. troops and their allies from Afghanistan itself, and also what’s happening in Afghanistan with the Afghanis and their response to the Taliban incursion and take over of their country. So let’s start by looking at the departure of the West from Afghanistan itself. I think it’s safe to say that we can call what’s going on the epitome of irresponsible statecraft. The Biden-Harris administration is single handedly created one of the largest humanitarian crises anywhere to date and create such a deep panic with local Afghans and fleeing allies that some Afghans have clung to the wings of departing aircraft and fell to their deaths. As well, what looks to be an incredibly unscripted departure has set back every military decision in action in the last 20 years in Afghanistan, placing tens of thousands of lives behind enemy lines and giving them only one option for escape through a gauntlet controlled by the enemy to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, which the enemy completely understands and knows that they have to do.

On top of this unfolding disaster, it appears the Biden-Harris administration is only recognizing and working with the local Taliban, trying to get them to understand our need for safe passage through all territories of Afghanistan to the Hamid Karzai airport for departure. It looks like they’re intending to continue to bargain with the enemy, and let’s understand who these people are. They’re not some nation state. We’re talking about a band of terrorists. The very same terrorists that have supported al-Qaida when Osama bin Laden put together the attacks on 9/11 2001. To add insult to injury two the senior players on the Taliban side of things here in Afghanistan are ex Gitmo detainees that were released under Obama during a trade for that deserter, Bowe Bergdahl. So we’ve got a total situation where the West is embarrassed about what’s going on and what’s happened. As well, the lack of communication with our allies, such as with the British prime minister and also the French, really highlight what’s happened with the devolution of our communication with our allies. That appears almost treacherous with the lack of transparency and communication that’s gone on during this abrupt route and departure of 2500 U.S. troops from the region, leaving about approximately 6000 allied troops without any idea what America’s doing. It’s my understanding that the UK prime minister reached out to Biden. It took up to 40 hours for Biden to reply to them and give them an idea of what our plans were and what we were doing.

All that said, we have thousands of allies and Afghans trying to leave Afghanistan and the threat of the Taliban through a single departure point that’s overwhelmed. On top of that kind of disaster, we have British special operators and French special operators and Spanish special operators and Italian special operations troops out getting their people and bringing them back to the airport for departure and to round them up for safety. All while , the rapid reaction force is in the ready forces of our U.S. Marines and our 82nd Airborne standby watching, not assisting. Because they’re not allowed to because they’ve not been given the order to go assist U.S. personnel and citizens behind enemy lines that were created by the Biden debacle of giving us only one departure point, giving up Bagram airbase and making Hamid Karzai International Airport¬† the only way in and out of Afghanistan for any Western allies or troops. It’s an insane debacle, and Biden is trying to act like everything’s under control when it’s completely not. You have the Taliban actually attacking and beating U.S. citizens. That’s been reported by our our State Department and is well recognized by the secretary of defense Lloyd Austin. And as well, you have Afghans dying, being shot in the streets in it’s already out of control. We’re only in the opening stages of this disaster. We don’t know what’s really going to happen in the next couple of weeks to a month.

And if we’re going to be able to pull everyone out by the deadline of the 31st, things are so bad that now the U.S. Department of Defense has enacted the commandeering of commercial jetliners to assist in the departure of getting folks out of Hamid Karzai airport. It’s a complete disaster. It’s a rolling one. We don’t know how much misery is going to come from this uncontrolled situation. Let’s also take into account the 31st of August is what our diplomatic corps and all of our negotiations have headed for, for a departure point. However, it’s looking like now the Taliban is setting the terms, they’re now calling the thirty first of August, 2021 a red line. So imagine what they’re doing now. They’re dictating the terms to the United States, how things are going to go, or there will be heavy consequences if the red line is crossed. This flies in the face of the last 20 years, American supremacy, and affects our relationships with our Naito allies and undermines our authority worldwide, geopolitically. This is a debacle that has many impacts well past Afghanistan and the departure of U.S. troops and allies. And it’s just going to be something that’s going to be taken advantage of by every enemy that’s going to consolidate around this revitalization of terrorism in Afghanistan, as well as a show of of American weakness across the world. We should also deeply bear in mind just how much equipment has been left behind that has now been commandeered and taken by the Taliban.

It’s nothing short of amazing. And near two or more than 80 billion dollars worth of equipment has fell into enemy hands. 2,000 armored vehicles, including Humvees and MRAPs, 45 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, 50 MD-530-G Scout attack choppers, more even including military drones, fell into the hands of the Taliban. I can go on 600,000 small arms to include M16s, M4s and M249 squad automatic weapons and M24 sniper system, 50 caliber heavy machine guns, M203 grenade launchers. Miniguns, 20 millimeter Gatling guns and the ammunition to support them. There are also 20, 20,000 or more grenades, mortars, thousands of rounds. Night vision goggles, thermal scopes, mono goggles, reconnaissance equipment for ISR, laser aiming units. And worst of all, they’ve gotten a hold of the biometric systems and units that we use to collect biometric information on all of our Afghan allies. This on top of the Taliban now being in control of the records from the Ministry of Defense is an epic disaster. They have all the intelligence, the Taliban do, to go out and collect up any allies and their families that have assisted the United States in the last 20 years and can verify their identities. This is going to lead to a bloodbath. And for the Biden administration, the Biden-Harris administration, to ignore the disaster that this is, is, we haven’t seen this in my lifetime. We haven’t seen this kind of devastating faux pas ever play out. This is the Bay of Pigs, the fall of Saigon, Benghazi 2.0, and the Iranian hostage crisis all wrapped into one that’s unfolding right now.

So just a small recap. The Taliban are reinvigorated. They have masses of equipment that we have left behind that I’m sure they’re going to use to to consolidate on their own objectives and create havoc and establish their own sick order. And at the same time, this is all going on, we have tens of thousands of Americans. The numbers are between 10,000 and 40,000 that are out there. We really don’t know, it’s an unknown number of Americans, private military contractors and otherwise, humanitarian assistants. Everyone out there that’s been part of this mission that has been one of those 2500 troops left to their own devices, attempting to get back to Hamid Karzai International Airport from all over every part of Afghanistan. This is not going to bode well given the soup and mixture of radical Taliban, newly formed and reinvigorated equipment and motive and having our folks out there with dwindling supplies and support. It’s an insane set of circumstances and it’s playing out right before our eyes right now.

So let’s dig a little deeper and realize that every action has a reaction. So, yes, Americans and NATO and all our allies are departing Afghanistan. However, Afghanis have responded to the Taliban’s resurgence and started a countermovement in several different places. The government hasn’t completely dissolved a Amrullah Saleh, the vice president of the defeated Afghan government, as well as Ahmad Masood, the son of the renowned Mujahedeen leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, are in the north and mounting a resistance to the Taliban. So there is signs that the Afghan people are resisting this resurgence of the Taliban and are taking action, and it’s needed. These are the kinds of things that we need to highlight and why the Biden-Harris administration is chosen to deal with the Taliban government, I guess if that’s what you want to call it, these terrorists, instead of talking to the likes of Ahmad Masood and Amrullah Saleh is beyond me. I don’t understand why we’ve chosen to parlay with terrorists. It’s unconscionable in my mind. But that’s exactly what the Biden-Harris administration has done. And with every misstep this administration has managed to put in place, we have a parody of forces or lack of parity between those resisting this Taliban regime coming to power and the Taliban itself. The Biden-Harris administration is effectively equipped terrorist enemy forces against those that would be effective partners in pushing back against these terrorists and strengthening our position, we spent 20 years building in Afghanistan.

So let’s bring this all home. Imagine if you would take for a moment and really conjure in your mind’s eye. Imagine being a private military contractor caught up in all of this. You’re nowhere near the Hamid Karzai International Airport. You’re well out into the hinterland of Afghanistan. What are your choices? What are your choices to survive? What’s going on? And get to the airport? What are your choices if you don’t if you mount a movement to the airport, will you abdicate to Taliban forces that you’re certain to encounter? Or will you be in combat with them? What’s your choice? Will you hard point where you’re at and hope for rescue? Or will you look to find one of these resistance groups of Afghans, link up with them and try to find a solution to getting to the airport or help them resist the Taliban? It’s a mess. I don’t, I do not see how by the 31st of August, 2021 per the Biden-Harris administration’s plans that will be able to effectively have all of our American service contractors and citizens out of there. It’s just not going to happen. So the the the choices are bleak. You fight for your life and you try to get to that airport, you hard point, or you try to link up with resurgent forces against the Taliban and make a stand. This is where we’re at. August 24th, 2021. There really aren’t that many choices. The borders are shut down. There’s only one way out of Afghanistan. So you have Americans that are caught behind enemy lines, held by terrorists, that will be certain to come into contact and most likely violent contact, with the enemy forces and need to make it stand.

Keep in mind that the Biden-Harris administration has not given any order to the U.S. forces to go out and help collect and exfil any of these personnel. None of them. There’s tens of thousands of Americans that are still hanging out in the wind that this administration has left out there. I offer up to you that this has to be a tremendously sobering moment for geopolitics, international politics, domestic politics, all of it. You have to really take home what’s going on here. It’s more than a travesty. Lives will be lost. American lives will be lost. Ally lives will be lost, and Afghan lives are going to enter a period of an immense suffering. And this is far from over. This this is the, I fear, cascade effect for policy and international politics, for domestic politics, all of it. We’re going to see a second and third order set of effects out of this that we never could have imagined. But that’s where we sit. The 24th of August, 2021. I thank you for joining me for this second episode of Battle Lab Podcast. And I look forward to having the next one with you guys and setting a new benchmark. Let’s face this together. Let’s sort this together and look to the future. Thank you again.

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