Wednesday, August 25, 2021

One of the First Troops to Enter Afghanistan after 9/11 Reflects on an ‘American Disaster’

Photo by U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Joshua Treadwel
For retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Don Bolduc, one of the first American servicemembers to enter Afghanistan after September 11, watching the scenes of chaos and desperation play out in Kabul this week has been heartbreaking.
Bolduc, who served in the U.S. Army for 33 years and is now running for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire as a Republican, said that years of poor decisions made by four administrations “sowed the seeds for what we see today.”
The world has watched in horror this week as Kabul fell and masses of people scrambled to leave, with Taliban fighters whipping and beating Afghans trying to enter the airport where the U.S. military is handling evacuations. Seven people died at the airport on Monday when hundreds of Afghans flooded the tarmac, desperate to flee the country and escape the Taliban.
All of this comes as U.S. intelligence agencies reportedly warned that the Afghan military and government were in danger of collapse just last month, as Biden publicly assured Americans that the Taliban’s takeover was “not inevitable.”
“This is an American disaster,” Bolduc said in an interview with National Review. “But this was a decision by President Biden and he’s the one that’s going to have to assume responsibility for it.”
Bolduc deployed to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as part of a small team to advise and assist future Afghan president Hamid Karzai. He arrived in Afghanistan on November 1, 2001, and says he was the first U.S. Army major in the region. He led one of the first groups in Afghanistan, riding on horseback to take the southern Afghan region from the Taliban.
Don Bolduc
“Our mission was to defeat the Taliban, al-Qaeda in southern Afghanistan and to set conditions for later-President Karzai to take over as the interim prime minister of Afghanistan and so that’s what we did,” said Bolduc, who received two awards for valor, five Bronze Star medals and two Purple Hearts.
After Karzai became interim prime minister and Afghans began reforming their government and “rebuilding the societal, culture structure in the villages that the Taliban had decimated,” Bolduc believed the Afghan people were “doing great” and the American military mission was complete.
“It was now a matter of supporting this government, internationally, diplomatically, development-wise, but let them do it their way,” he said. “Of course, that’s not what we did. We decided to go into nation-building and create national military, national police there, rebuild their institutions, write their constitution, name their government. It was huge overreach and something we shouldn’t have done.”
Read the rest of the story HERE

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