ANALYSIS – Despite feverish attempts by President Biden and his team to claim the current self-created disaster in Afghanistan is not an abandonment, withdrawal, or crisis evacuation, most experts agree it is all three. As someone who has both served in various U.S. embassies as a military attaché and trained in embassy evacuation and reinforcement operations in the Marines, I too can attest this is in fact about to become an emergency non-combatant evacuation operation, or NEO.
NEO is the military term for removing civilians and nonessential military personnel from a dangerous crisis zone. The term is politically charged, and Team Biden is desperately trying to avoid using it.
Unfortunately for them, reality is harder to avoid.
Images of helicopters leaving the U.S. embassy rooftop in Saigon 1975 are already being imagined.
AP notes that:
Just weeks before the U.S. is scheduled to end its war in Afghanistan, the Biden administration is rushing 3,000 fresh troops to the Kabul airport to help with a partial evacuation of the U.S. Embassy. The move highlights the stunning speed of a Taliban takeover of much of the country …
The New York Times adds:
The Pentagon is moving thousands of Marines into position for a possible evacuation of the American Embassy and U.S. citizens in Kabul as the Biden administration braces for a possible collapse of the Afghan government within 30 days, officials said.
The Pentagon is moving thousands of Marines into position for a possible evacuation of the American Embassy and U.S. citizens in Kabul as the Biden administration braces for a possible collapse of the Afghan government within 30 days, officials said. https://t.co/DLdZlvPjNq
— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 12, 2021
Yet, the administration shamelessly claims: “This is not abandonment. This is not an evacuation. This is not a wholesale withdrawal,” as State Department spokesman Ned Price just said. He added in Orwellian manner: “What this is is a reduction in the size of our civilian footprint.”
The Pentagon is sending troops to Karzai International Airport in Kabul to help evacuate U.S. embassy as the Taliban continues its offensive in Afghanistan: “This is not an abandonment. This is not an evacuation. This is not a wholesale withdrawal”-State Dept spokesman Ned Price pic.twitter.com/5ve8bQpFjH
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 12, 2021
How is that for political doublespeak?
The current outrageous administration spin continues the precedent set by Biden’s July Afghanistan speech which both CNN and I called absolute “malarky.”
Biden’s Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby refused to call the new mission a noncombatant evacuation operation. But Mark Jacobson, a former Pentagon official in the Obama administration agrees with me, saying in AP:
This is, in no uncertain terms, a NEO, which is an operation designed to evacuate U.S. civilian personnel whose lives are threatened by war, civil unrest or natural disaster. There’s no cut-out for embassy personnel unless you are trying to make a political point …
And, beyond the horrible repercussions for the Afghan people, and the region, as I have repeatedly written, this deadly and avoidable fiasco will forever stain Joe Biden’s legacy as well as the Democrats.
The Washington Post’s foreign policy affairs columnist David Ignatius makes the historical parallel: “For President Biden, who had hoped for an orderly U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the chaos in Kabul carries echoes of the fall of Saigon in 1975 — precisely the image he wanted to avoid.”
More to the point, Frederick Kagan, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, pins the blame squarely on POTUS in a New York Times OPED:
A disastrous Taliban takeover wasn’t inevitable. President Biden said his hands were tied to a withdrawal given the awful peace deal negotiated between the Trump administration and the Taliban. But there was still a way to pull out American troops while giving our Afghan partners a better chance to hold the gains we made with them over the last two decades.
Mr. Biden chose otherwise. The way he announced the drawdown and eventual departure of American troops — at the start of the fighting season, on a rapid timeline and sans adequate coordination with the Afghan government — has in part gotten us into the current situation.
Along with the ongoing border crisis, this is one of Biden’s worse disasters so far, for the U.S. and the people of Afghanistan and the region, but also one that will certainly impact the midterm elections next year. ADN