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Thursday, March 30, 2023

U.S. Army veterans testify harshly to ‘catastrophic’ troop withdrawal from Afghanistan – Reuters


Marine Sergeant Tyler Vargas-Andrews, who nearly died in a deadly terrorist attack during the chaotic 2021 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, gave compelling and moving testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, reported NBC News. “I opened my eyes and saw dead or unconscious Marines lying around me. I was badly injured, every inch of my body except my face was pierced by bullets and shrapnel,” said Marine Sgt. Vargas-Andrews, 25, who spent several minutes trying to recover, spoke of the Kabul airport bombing on August 26, 2021. The blast killed 13 US service members as well as 170 Afghan civilians.

Vargas-Andrews, whose sniper team helped evacuate the airport, was one of 45 US soldiers injured that day. He lost several organs and two limbs and has since undergone 44 surgeries. “Our service members and veterans deserve the best because that’s what we give America. The troop pullout was, in my opinion, a disaster, and there was a lack liability and inexcusable negligence,” Vargas-Andrews said. “For the 11 Marines, one sailor and one soldier who were killed that day, no one responded,” he added. Scott Mann, a former Green Beret who served several times in Afghanistan and founded Task Force Pineapple, which helped evacuate about a thousand Afghan allies from the country, called the US withdrawal “catastrophic”. “I want the Americans to know the truth: the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan was an organizational error on several levels,” said Gunderson, who referred to what happened on the runway of the airport in Kabul, where desperate Afghans, clinging to the landing gear of planes, fell hundreds of meters deep.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by Texas-based Chairman Mike McCall, heard compelling testimony from Vargas-Andrews and other Afghan veterans who either served in the field during the disastrous evacuation, be tempted to help Americans and Afghan allies escape war. countries.

In a 115-page interim report released last fall, McCall blamed President Joe Biden’s administration for the chaos at the airport, saying it had failed to properly plan for the consequences of the withdrawal. “What happened in Afghanistan was a systemic collapse of the federal government at all levels – and a resounding failure of leadership from the White House,” McCall said in his opening remarks, adding that more than a thousand American citizens and about 200,000 Afghans are allies and partners “left behind”.
“It was a rejection of the most fundamental responsibility of the United States government to protect Americans and leave no one behind,” McCall continued. “I want every member of the gold and blue star family and every veteran watching this today to know that I will have no rest and this committee will have no rest until we determine how it happened and bring those responsible to justice,” the congressman added.

The United States left about 78,000 Afghan allies who worked for the U.S. government and applied for special visas, according to a report last year by the nonprofit Wartime Allies Association.

US President Joe Biden has claimed he “inherited the deal” his predecessor Donald Trump made with the Taliban to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by May 2021. “I fully support my decision, said Biden in his speech after the withdrawal. After 20 years, I learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw American troops.”

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