US navy veteran predicts grim future for Afghans left behind

Retired naval pilot calls the abandonment a 'breach of faith' that will have long-lasting consequences

People climb a wall at Hamid Karzai International Airport in desperation after rumours that foreign countries were flying Afghans out after the Taliban overran Kabul on Monday. Getty
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Despite repeated calls for their safe evacuation before the departure of international troops, thousands of allies in Afghanistan are being left behind.

US veterans and active personnel fear for the lives of the men and women who acted as their interpreters, drivers and in some cases, defenders.

After 20 years of occupation, US President Joe Biden announced in April the withdrawal of the remaining forces, about 2,500 US troops and 7,000 Nato troops, by September 11.

“Leaving those who risked everything to help with our mission and goals, not theirs, is a breach of faith and will have long-lasting ramifications for our influence worldwide,” retired US naval pilot Ward Carroll told The National.

Mr Carroll, a 20-year veteran, spent time in Afghanistan embedded with troops as a writer and journalist, and saw the training of Afghan forces.

“You could just see that, for most of them, their hearts just weren’t in it,” he said. “These people weren’t fighters. They were farmers and dads, not killers.”

More than $83 billion had been spent training, equipping and arming Afghan army, air and police forces that rolled over in days, not months.

US intelligence reports indicated that these forces were far better equipped than the Taliban, but an intricate system of corruption was in place, Mr Carroll said.

“The way these guys were incentivised is they were paid for their training and now that the US isn’t there to pay them any more the Taliban is paying them,” the retired commander said.

“We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg of the corruption, with ammunition and guns coming in one door and going out the other.”

Mr Biden said that he took responsibility for the current debacle and remained steadfast that his decision was the right one.

“There’s some very brave and capable Afghan special forces units and soldiers," he said on Monday.

"But if Afghanistan is unable to mount any real resistance to the Taliban now, there is no chance that one year — one more year, five more years or 20 more years of US military boots on the ground would’ve made any difference,” he added.

Mr Carroll agreed with Mr Biden’s remarks and believed that this would have happened no matter who was in office, referring to the images from Kabul of the US exit.

“The violence is going to get worse," he said. "We are going to start seeing images of people hanging from trees."

Updated: February 15, 2022, 7:55 PM