Don’t give up now

All of us who wear or have worn a military uniform, and all of our family members, mourn for those 13 U.S. servicemen and women killed this week in an ISIS-K suicide attack at Kabul Airport. We know their lives were cut short while serving a greater good, which was to help fellow citizens and Afghans who fought alongside our forces a way out of a Taliban-controlled country. Many of us – I am one – believe to give one’s life that another human being may live is among the most noble things on earth.

That attack, with some 180 Afghan women, children and men killed and hundreds badly wounded, is the harbinger of the future for Afghanistan. ISIS-K hates the U.S., but they hate the Taliban equally, and will continue and likely expand their horrific attacks on civilians, that have included in the past few years attacks on a Kabul maternity ward, killing mothers and newborns, as well as a massive attack on a girls school that killed some 85 girls. The chaos in Afghanistan left by our American and NATO departure will only get worse.

It is very clear now, as the 31 August withdrawal date is hours away, that many deserving Afghans with Special Immigrant Visas to the U.S. and other allied countries will not get out on the evacuation flights that are coming to a close. We owe them something more than our sympathies.

There has been talk in diplomatic circles of requesting the United Nations establish a special access area in Kabul for those Afghans with the required paperwork to continue to depart, perhaps on civilian flights. With no military force to back such a resolution, it is very doubtful it is practical in any realistic sense. The Taliban have already said they don’t want Afghans with education and skills leaving the country.

A more realistic but extremely challenging endeavor would be to establish alternate ways – several would be best – to continue to extricate those Afghans that supported the U.S. and NATO, in spite of the Taliban. Some have termed it an “underground.” Call it what you will, but the intent would be to quietly, perhaps covertly, locate deserving individuals and families and move them by vehicles, clandestine air, by foot if necessary, out of Afghanistan, and eventually to America. Risky? Absolutely! Expensive? Yes, but what price do we place on the life of someone who fought alongside us for years? Will it anger the Taliban? Certainly…and that is just too bad for them.

Those who offered to give their lives to serve next to us in combat now need us to give it our all to help them – just as those 11 Marines, a sailor and soldier – gave their lives for a greater good.

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