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The Conflict of Leaving the Country

By CPT Max Gillick

3-82 GSAB (TF Talon), 82 CAB, 82 ABN DIV

“It was over, we had spent just shy of 4 months making the best of a short but rather complex deployment. Most everyone felt conflicted on how we inevitably left the country. There were those who felt it was a slap in the face for the many blood soaked years they had spent in the country, others felt they could have done more for the people who so desperately flocked to the airport. Of all the many things that I will remember for the rest of my life I will remember the following the most:

I will remember the aircrews of Task Force Talon who flew into a sky filled with bullets to evacuate the American Embassy and ferry out almost 9000 Afghan refugees from locations outside of the city.

I will remember the men and women who went above and beyond to feed displaced children, bring food and water to soldiers without, and the lone engineer who kept the lights on and the water flowing across HKIA.”

“Of all the good and righteous things we were able to accomplish, I will always remember the bad.

I will remember the disconnection of senior leaders to the situation at hand. How this played into the delay of the NEO (non-combatant evacuation operation), and how it led to catastrophe."

I will remember how in the moments of pure terror and chaos, service members still used the situation for clout and celebrity. Many of whom could be seen taking selfies and photos of fleeing Afghanis.

Lastly, I will remember how our own Division and Brigade leadership elected to keep us in Kuwait for a "follow on mission" for an additional two months. Prioritizing the return of the task force entire over soldiers who faced familial/ marital strife and burden at home.”

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