“No one left behind” is the motto of U.S. forces as they enter into battle and it isn’t a pledge they take lightly. Even if it involves dragging out bodies while still under enemy fire, they will not be left for the enemy to disrespect. It’s an honor system that Joe Biden isn’t familiar with.
Though they may not be U.S. soldiers, there are U.S. families and Afghan civilians still trying to get out. Many of them risked life and limb assisting American troops and subsequently keeping the body count lower than it would have been. Still hoping against all hope to be rescued, they’re in hiding knowing each new day could be their last.
A coalition of non-profit organizations has been diligently working behind the scenes to get the people the Taliban are hunting down safely out of Afghanistan. The group is trying to do what the government has failed to, and they aren’t getting much help. To make things more difficult, conditions under Taliban rule are worsening by the day.
The group, known as the AfghanEvac Coalition, reached out to Secretary of State Anthony Blinkin via a video call. In no uncertain terms, they let Blinkin know that if the U.S. doesn’t step up to the plate in a hurry, thousands of people could be slaughtered and the blood will be on his and Biden’s hands.
Former Marine Peter Lucier who fought in Afghanistan is a coalition team member. He said, “The State Department doing enough isn’t enough; we need whole of government solutions; we need the international community to step up and we need it quickly. Winter is coming. There is a famine already.”
Private groups, many of them managed by veterans, have already done more than the government has. They’ve been responsible for evacuating and assisting with the resettlement of tens of thousands of Afghans and U.S. citizens who were left behind to die. Flights leaving Afghanistan are scarce these days so it hasn’t been an easy task.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the coalition stressed the need for a “collective effort.” They need Blinken’s help, in particular, to get current visa holders and visa applicants out of the country ASAP. They asked for help to “facilitate the departure of these individuals who are at a stage where it is appropriate to do so.”
Of the roughly 82,000 Afghans who have already made it into the U.S., 10% were American citizens or at least had permanent residence status. Many of the evacuees worked for the U.S. government in one capacity or another but they also included journalists and Afghan government officials who were in imminent danger. Interestingly, almost half of the evacuees were children.
Lucier wouldn’t provide the specifics of the meeting but he did say they let Blinkin know where “specific stumbling blocks” and “choke points” were located. They also let him know that other areas within the government are going to need to take better action as well.
“The answers are complex,” Lucier said. “There are no simple technical fixes to a lot of this.” Perhaps the problem would be far less had the initial withdrawal been strategically planned instead of Brandon simply hollering “Let’s go.”