After two decades of war, the abrupt withdrawal of the last American forces from Afghanistan last year sent Kabul into a state of agonizing disarray.
Scott Mann watched news coverage of the withdrawal at his Tampa, Florida home and became indignantly shocked. The ex-Green Beret had spent several tours in the nation, instructing Afghan special forces commandos and later assisting in efforts to expand the democratic government’s influence through village stability operations in rural areas. He was aware that the Taliban’s regaining control would undo the 20 years of progress made and subject the commandos and their families to horrible retaliation. The retired lieutenant colonel was dragged into one more mission from 8,000 miles away as his phone got full of texts from Afghan commandos frantically trying to flee and American soldiers lacked a coordinated evacuation strategy. What these veterans know is something that careerist senior military leaders, diplomats, and politicians do not. The reason for this is that “I have your back” must imply something in our field of work. They are aware that the moral issue is much more significant than our inability to keep our word. It concerns responsibility. Senior leadership had the power to shape events, aid the commandos in creating a covert strategy for guerilla warfare, and ensure the protection of their families.