‘Was it price it?’: Pain and anger inside Pentagon after Afghanistan crumbles


On the second ground of the Pentagon, a small map marks the trail {that a} hijacked American Airlines aircraft took earlier than hitting the navy headquarters on Sept 11 2001, an assault that propelled the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Just a few corridors over hangs a full wall-sized poster of a 2009 Time journal cowl, with the phrases “How not to lose in Afghanistan” and a picture of a US soldier smoking a cigarette someplace within the nation.

The constructing near Washington that homes places of work for greater than 20,000 service members and civilian defence staff, is plagued by reminders of 20 years of US involvement in Afghanistan, America’s longest warfare.

Was all of it price it? – That’s a query senior navy leaders are grappling with following the collapse of the US-trained and funded Afghan navy, the Taliban’s shockingly speedy takeover, a bungled evacuation of civilians from Kabul and the prospect of Afghans who helped Americans within the warfare being left behind to face reprisals from the Taliban in energy.

“We see videos and photos, we read stories that bring back memories for some of us, and it becomes intensely personal,” General David Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, wrote in a memo to Marines.

“Was it worth it? Yes. Does it still hurt? Yes,” Berger wrote.

‘Didn’t have to finish like this’

It is widespread for service members to kind bonds with the international locations they deploy to, particularly in fight.

There was deep frustration amongst service members deployed to Syria when then-president Donald Trump in December 2018 abruptly introduced the withdrawal of two,000 troops who had largely defeated Islamic State (ISIS). The move was criticised by officers and lawmakers as abandonment of Kurdish allies and leaving unchecked Russia and Iran’s affect in Syria.

But not like Syria, a technology of service members had been formed by Afghanistan, a warfare at first meant to oust the Taliban and goal al Qaeda militants there who deliberate the assaults on New York and Washington.

Over the years, 800,000 Americans deployed to Afghanistan because the mission developed right into a nation-building train. Nearly 2,400 had been killed and greater than 20,000 injured.

To critics, the US navy was a part of the issue. Senior navy leaders have usually introduced overly-optimistic views. US airstrikes and raids killed girls and youngsters.

As intelligence studies began trickling in two weeks in the past that the Taliban had been sweeping by means of the nation with little resistance by the Afghan forces, Pentagon officers mentioned they had been shocked.

When President Joe Biden gave a speech by which he mentioned some at-risk Afghans didn’t need to depart, there was anger over his perceived lack of empathy.

In the previous few days, there was frustration over the sluggish tempo of the evacuations of US residents and weak Afghans.

US navy officers mentioned they had been unable to carry again tears throughout the previous week.

For some, it was studying studies in regards to the bases they lived in being overrun. For others it was receiving messages from Afghans, begging for assist and warning that the Taliban would kill them.

“I want to be very clear: your service was not in vain, and it made a difference,” Admiral Mike Gilday, the chief of US Naval operations, mentioned in his personal memo final week.

Aides to US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, who each served in Afghanistan, included references to the vary of feelings service members had been feeling after they spoke to reporters.

Both mentioned they understood that the occasions in Afghanistan had been private for service members and these had been tough occasions.

“It was going to end sometime. It just didn’t have to end like this,” one navy official mentioned.

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