US troops who were guarding Kabul airport’s Abbey Gate during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan have given searing accounts to the House Foreign Affairs Committee of their experiences.
Marine Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, part of a Scout Sniper team, was present for seven days before losing his right arm and left leg in a suicide bomb attack. He described conditions at the gate as “hell on earth”, with “extreme malnutrition, dehydration, heat casualties, and infants dying.” He also said that some Afghans who were turned away from the airport attempted to kill themselves on razor wire in front of troops. US troops were guarding Abbey Gate under a deal struck with the Taliban, which agreed to maintain security elsewhere in the city. Thousands of Afghans and Americans had to pass through Taliban checkpoints to reach the airport, where US State Department personnel processed people. Vargas-Andrews said that State Department staff were unprepared and failed to process people overnight, leaving troops with “a nightmare”.