This by the way is why the clamor over a later targeted attack on a suspected suicide bomber in Kabul later by some on the right was idiotic and put the lives of our soldiers at risk. In that case the target may not have turned out to be a suicide bomber, but when our people are in enemy territory and under attack, it’s better to err on the side of taking out a suspected terrorist than to err on the side of doing nothing.
This is what happens when our people are prevented from defending themselves.
Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews recounted to the House Foreign Affairs Committee how his team deployed to Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 26, 2021, and were tracking a man who intelligence officers believed was a suicide bomber “throughout the entirety” of the day leading up to the explosion.
“Intel guys confirmed the suicide bomber … described as clean-shaven, brown-dressed, black vest and traveling with an older companion,” he said.
Vargas-Andrews told the committee that his team continually updated intelligence teams that day on the suspect’s actions, noting the men were an “anomaly in the crowd” and “both had obvious mannerisms that go along with who we believed him to be.”
“They handed out small cards to the crowd periodically, and the older man sat calmly and seemingly coached the bomber,” Vargas-Andrews said. “Over the communication network, we passed that there was a potential threat and an idea attack imminent.”
“This was as serious as it could get,” he added.
Vargas-Andrews said he requested permission to kill the suspected terrorist and his team leader got a sniper gun ready. But the Marines were told not to shoot because “leadership did not have the engagement authority for us.”
Vargas-Andrews, who lost an arm and a leg in the blast, was one of the roughly 45 troops who were injured but survived.
“We were ignored. Our expertise was disregarded,” he said of the lead-up to the blast. “No one was held accountable for our safety.”
Under Obama, troop numbers in Afghanistan shot up but the authority to engage the terrorists disappeared. Catastrophic casualties followed. And the response was to increasingly pull back to avoid the casualties while letting the Taliban have the country. Everything that followed was just the final act. It is not at all surprising that what happened at Kabul Airport ultimately came down to Obama’s original sin against our men in uniform.