Republican Congressional leaders are still, over four months after the chaotic and deadly US troop exit from Afghanistan, trying to press the Biden administration on why it won’t initiate efforts to get the remainder of local Afghan allies out of the country. Specifically there’s been growing concern over an estimated 20,000 Afghan commandos who had been trained and advised by US special forces, and often did the bulk of the counter-terrorism fighting during the final years of the US war in Afghanistan. This includes thousands of interpreters who helped the Pentagon, risking their lives. Now, there’s a feeling in Washington that the administration is simply ready to abandon them, hoping no one notices or makes too much noise about it.
One recent Fox News report introduces, “While the administration boasts it evacuated over 120,000 Afghans—a majority were not Afghan interpreters or their families, officials say.” Recall that the White House previously vowed to help America’s partners on the ground to escape, but “some lawmakers and veterans say the government has no plans to rescue perhaps the most critical ally: Afghan commandos. A group built from scratch by U.S. Special Operations Forces.”
Republican Representative Mike Waltz last week descried that “The Taliban are hunting them down” – in reference to the Afghan commandos which formerly were the bulk of the US-backed national government’s elite forces. He and other veteran representatives (Waltz himself was a Green Beret) aren’t willing to drop the issue, even as it appears the administration just wants to problem of allies left behind to just “go away”.
“The administration just wants this to go away. They just want to turn the page. It’s one of the most heartless things I’ve ever encountered,” Rep. Waltz said in a prior Fox interview.
Some of those Congressional reps now seeking to spotlight the thousands of US-partnered commandos left behind had last summer argued that a military security force of some 650 American troops could have been left behind to secure the US embassy, and at least provide a local exit route for partner forces.
However, critics of that plan pointed out that those US troops that remained would themselves be sitting ducks for continued Taliban or ISIS-K attacks, and the evacuation nightmare would have simply endured and grown worse.
Over the past months, what the US State Department has failed to do many veterans’ groups have stepped up to accomplish, organizing highly dangerous private evacuation efforts, or finding any unconventional way to get their former local partner forces out. The head of one such US-based group highlighted that many active and former US service members are outraged that not a single top administration or Pentagon official was ever held accountable:
“I think a lot of people should have been fired over the handling of Afghanistan and not just in this administration,” said Scott Mann, a former Green Beret and veteran of the Afghan war who founded Task Force Pineapple in order to rescue those left behind.
American citizens and Afghan allies are still stranded in a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The Biden administration must get them home or brought to safety. https://t.co/sJgkVkcGiG
— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) January 8, 2022
Since the summer, there’ve been reports of mass summary executions of former Afghan soldiers who previously worked with Americans. The Taliban’s ability to identify them and their families was likely made easier also after the Islamist group’s conquest of Kabul – given the Taliban seized all central government personnel files, and other sensitive information from the former Ashraf Ghani government.