Lt. Col. Omar Hamada, M.D., also believes that the pullout should have been done incrementally, so things wouldn’t be as rushed as they are now.
“What I understand is that the Afghan national police and army were requesting that we wait to withdraw until after this fighting season was over, so that—the winters are harsh in Afghanistan—but instead we sort of just pulled out, removed their air support, and left them to face the Taliban pretty much alone,” Hamada, now an emergency room doctor, said Friday.
“So of course they collapsed pretty quickly. I think if we had done it more incrementally, if we had removed our people first, we’d have removed our equipment second, and then made the transition more slowly, it would have been much more successful than just sort of cutting and running and leaving everything there on the ground,” he added.
The Taliban routed the U.S.-backed Afghan forces this month, completing its takeover of the country in mid-August after the United States pulled out most of its troops.
The takeover triggered the deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to secure the airport in Kabul, enabling the evacuation of Americans, Afghans, and others.
Some 6,000 Americans were in the country as of Aug. 14, according to U.S. officials. About 900 of them were believed to still be there as of Friday.
President Joe Biden has defended the withdrawal, asserting the United States met the goals that it set when invading the country in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, and arguing the Trump administration’s agreement with the Taliban constrained his actions.
But Biden’s strategy, which was thrown off course by the Taliban takeover, led to the at least one bombing that rocked Kabul on Thursday, Hamada alleged.
“I think it is basically them taking advantage of our projected weakness, knowing that we’re not going to respond, that we are getting out as quickly as possible, that our president is taking orders from the Taliban,” said the former special forces member, speaking of the attack said to be carried out by ISIS.
Biden vowed to retaliate, but Hamada doubts the vow, believing any response will be insubstantial.
Hamada was in one of the first U.S. troop waves into Afghanistan. Little from back then is the same, with the initial mission to “deny the Taliban freedom of movement and to destroy their ability to function” giving way in late 2002 to more of a policing function.
Moving forward, the doctor believes the United States should dramatically change course to salvage the situation in Afghanistan.
“I think the way to recover the whole situation … is to retake major airfields throughout the country, send in Army Rangers to do that, that’s their mission, that’s their specialty, and then a couple of battalions of special forces, the Green Berets, to go out and recover and rescue Americans, and Afghan allies that they want to bring over. And then slowly pull out from there,” he said.
But U.S. officials, including Biden, have said the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline remains in place, not enough time to do that before that deadline, Hamada added.