The White House’s response to the Afghanistan withdrawal concerns US veterans and worsens their trauma and moral injury.
(Washington, DC) Apr. 7, 2023 – Operation Allies Refuge Foundation, comprised of Veterans of the Kabul Evacuation, expressed serious concerns over the White House’s recent remarks on Thursday, April 6, 2023, on the disastrous withdrawal. The document demonstrates an absence of accountability at multiple echelons. The press does not represent the direct experiences of the troops involved in the chaotic three weeks at Hamid Karzai International Airport in August 2021. We are seeking answers on the avoidable inaction and complete lack of leadership regarding the withdrawal, which ended with a month of utter chaos endured by all those who participated.
The airport’s hellish scenes resulted from poor planning, inadequate communication, and a deficiency of coordination among leadership, severely impacting the safety and well-being of evacuees and Service Members. The trust in our leadership was betrayed, with fatal consequences, including 13 Service Members killed in action and over 170 Afghan civilian deaths in an IED attack on August 26, 2021.
During the White House press briefing, John Kirby, the National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, said he “just didn’t see [the] chaos” of the withdrawal as it happened. Mr. Kirby also stated that “This document and this effort isn’t about accountability, it’s about understanding.”
It is our understanding that all military actions require accountability. Without accountability trust in leadership is eroded, and mistakes that lead to negative consequences will continue to repeat. Accountability is essential to responsible leadership for restoring public confidence in the government. Additionally, it can help provide closure for those who have suffered losses and prevent further moral injuries among Veterans.
Our service members accomplished the seemingly impossible task with extreme courage despite little help and under extreme duress. We appreciate the administration’s promise to support Service Members and will hold them accountable to that standard. The Foundation welcomes investigations, seeks corrective actions, and aims to raise awareness to support Veterans and Afghan allies. Our belief is not in partisanship but in cooperation, which can aid in healing our communities.
About Operation Allies Refuge Foundation: Operation Allies Refuge Foundation is a registered 501(c)3 Nonprofit dedicated to providing support and advocacy to veterans who have sustained moral injury and trauma through research and treatment, education, community, and the sharing of personal experiences. OAR Foundation was founded by veterans who participated in the Kabul air-lift in 2021 and is deeply committed to helping our fellow veterans heal from the invisible wounds sustained during their time in service. We believe that our duty to each other lasts a lifetime. Learn more at www.operationalliesrefugefoundation.org
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