No matter what anyone, official or unofficial, says or does, those who fought alongside our Afghan allies will never desert them.
Over the past 20 years we toiled in hot dusty summers and cruel oppressive winters in the air starved mountains of Afghanistan. We left our friends and family at home and gained new friends and family in the most unlikely of places, in a land much different than ours. Alongside us these past 20 years were those whose ancestors have been in that land for 2,000 years. Such forefathers, hospitable people and superstitious warriors as they are, threw out the greatest empires from Alexander, the Mongols, the British, and the Russians. Believing that we were their friends, they took us into their homes, gave us their food, poured our tea, fought alongside us, and took us to the funerals of their comrades. They wept at the funerals of our people. They risked their lives for us even at the risk of their own family, which is a bigger deal for them than for us. They proved their loyalty to America’s best.
They fought as allies believing we were not occupiers and would never leave the large footprint of conventional forces such as the wicked Soviet Empire did, but they also thought we would keep our commitment to never leave or forsake them. Sadly, our leaders did exactly this.
There is enough blame to go across all political stripes and that can be done another time. But from the moment it looked as if Afghanistan would fall and even before, American Veterans and their friends, of different Armed Services, races, and even religions banded together to save their friends. Some who banded together are in government, some in the military, many are private and more than a few are military spouses; all are incredible people working in between family and work; sometimes to the detriment of both.
They are risking everything to save our Afghan Allies to ensure that America lives up to the greatest promise of its ideals; that we do not abandon our own including our friends. The question has been asked what has the past 20 years of our lives been for? Would we have been better off doing what everyone at home was doing? The past 20 years have been preparing us for this era, when we would be called on one more time, no matter how long it takes, to stand in the gap and to, if necessary, lay down our lives for our friends.
We will never stop. Our parents and grandparents are Vietnam Veterans. We remember how they fought a war with one hand tied behind their back and then how things were worse for them, and the Vietnamese people, when they were abandoned. Most of us did not grow up during Vietnam but we grew up with Vietnam in our culture. Our parents spoke of it, our books wrote of it, and our movies displayed it. We promised it would never happen again, even if government failed again. One of the movies from our age pitted Special Forces members against government bureaucrats in the fight to rescue American POWs in Vietnam. The bureaucrat refused to rescue the POWs, telling the Special Forces Colonel, “You’re risking your career, your reputation, even your family security. You honestly think any one man is worth all that?” The SF Colonel replied, “Yes I do.”
Yes, we do, too. As the children of Reagan, these were the values we were raised with and later cemented as we came of age during our service these past 20 years; a time when we grew from teenagers and young men and women to middle aged warriors who have one last fight left for our Americans in Afghanistan, as well as our Afghan brothers and sisters. While the government proposes payments to illegals, these who are vetted and vouched for by our fighting men and women remain in harm’s way. We will never stop fighting for them, whether it cost our lives, our fortunes or our sacred honor. We will bring them home.
*Larry Provost served two tours in Afghanistan. Opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and not any U.S. government agency.