••KEEP Al Fonzi
Al Fonzi is an independent opinion columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email him at atascaderocolumnist@gmail.com.

Last month I wrote about Biden’s legacy of shame, abandoning American citizens and allies in Afghanistan to a certain fate of torture and death if captured by the Taliban or al-Qaeda /ISIS terrorists. Hundreds have since been butchered as predicted; former American special forces soldiers allied with non-governmental organizations have set up overland escape routes, smuggling out small numbers of their Afghan compatriots fortunate enough to be able to re-connect along with their families. Thousands still remain in hiding, moving from house to house, village to village, attempting to evade certain death. The incompetence of the execution of the non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) was compounded by the indifference to leaving sensitive equipment behind for enemy capture. Included were over 7000 sets of ID kits that used biometrics for the ID of individuals. Each set contained a complete database containing personal information on every Afghan that worked for America during the war, from truck drivers and cooks to intelligence operatives. The Taliban has been using these sets to go door-to-door to locate, ID, and capture Afghans who worked with us.

Most of whom that are captured by Taliban forces have heart-rendering stories, such as the former interpreter and his family, first tortured, then beheaded except for his 10-year old daughter who was sold off to an ISIS fighter as a child bride.

Biden didn’t just abandon Americans and Afghans; he also left our European allies in the lurch, hundreds of whose citizens remained scattered throughout the country and unable to penetrate Taliban roadblocks. Unlike American forces, British Special Air Service commandos made numerous forays into the countryside to recover British nationals. American troops wanted to leave the airport to rescue their fellow citizens and Afghans alike but were ordered by the President not to depart the confines of Kabul airport, ostensibly to prevent further American casualties. That order left many American troops demoralized as they were forced to watch as hundreds eligible for evacuation were left behind.

A heartbreaking story with little coverage is how our retreating forces were ordered to abandon K-9’s (war dogs) that so faithfully accompanied American troops into combat, sniffing out improvised explosive devices and enemy ambushes, saving the lives of untold numbers of U.S. troops. These dogs are faithful unto death to their masters and the military units to which they were assigned. In the past, a dog-handler was often able to adopt his dog for life after they left the service. The dogs in Afghanistan, at least 50 of them were abandoned to their fate and left behind, if not summarily shot. Someone decided arranging their transport home was too expensive, and troops were ordered to leave them behind in the chaos of the evacuation.

This last week the story of the evacuation became even worse. In congressional hearings this week, we listened to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is the senior military advisor to the President, along with the Commander of U.S. Central Command (with authority over the Middle East military operations) along with the Secretary of Defense all contradict President Biden’s comments to CNN reporter that nobody told him of an imminent Afghanistan collapse or of a need to keep at least 2500 American troops on the ground to support Afghan military forces. All three top military officials stated they had advised the President to keep a stabilization force on the ground and to continue logistical support to the Afghan forces. The Secretary of Defense confirmed that the advice of the top generals was included in the President’s briefings, but the President insisted on a complete withdrawal and to adhere to an August 31st date of final withdrawal. Worse still, the President’s civilian national security team didn’t think it necessary to ask for advice of senior military commanders until Kabul had already fallen and the ground situation was a fait accompli.

We hadn’t experienced a single casualty for 18 months, and our maintenance support of Afghan aircraft and special operations advisors to monitor distribution of essential supplies was crucial to Afghan forces ability to stave off the Taliban offensive, an offensive supported by over 15,000 al-Qaeda fighters and Pakistani intelligence operatives infiltrated from Pakistan. The Afghans lost over 66,000 troops in the 20-year fight against the Taliban, with an equal number of civilian casualties. Our presence and support was essential to keeping the Taliban terrorist army at bay. We could have defeated them, but American policymakers were determined to abandon the field to achieve a political “victory lap” by declaring the war over by the 20th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Unfortunately, nobody thought to tell the Taliban or other Islamic terrorist groups that the war was over: for them, it’s just a pause to regroup, rearm and plan the next attack. Where’s the outrage?