Bill Bee is author of The Shot: The Harrowing Journey of a Marine in the War on Terror, which will be released on September 13.
Nearly a year ago, President Joe Biden was speaking at a briefing when he turned to take a question from a reporter.
It was August 29, 2021 – just three days after an Al Qaeda suicide bomber blew himself up outside the gates of Kabul airport killing 13 American troops, including 11 Marines, and dozens of Afghan civilians.
‘Mr. President, on Afghanistan . . .’ the journalist started.
‘No, I’m not going to answer Afghanistan now,’ snapped Biden, the commander-in-chief responsible for the disaster, as he walked away from the podium.
How dare he?
Now, one year since the last American military aircraft left Kabul airport, the president has still not answered the question.
How could he lead America into one of the most humiliating and unnecessarily deadly military withdrawals in our history and stay mum?
As a Marine who flew to Helmand Province just months after 9/11 and whose combat career ended in a mud hut fitted with Taliban IEDs, I, like millions of other Americans, deserve answers.
And we deserve them now, before the withdrawal becomes a memory and the public’s demand for holding Biden & Co. accountable wanes.
A Taliban sniper nearly brought an early end to the military career and life of Marine Bill Bee on May 18, 2008. The picture above of that moment has become one of among many iconic images of America’s war in Afghanistan
But as of Tuesday morning, the silence from the White House has been deafening.
This is why Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), the first Green Beret to serve in Congress, is demanding a congressional committee to get to the bottom of the Biden administration’s botched escape from America’s 20-year war.
‘No officials have been fired. Not one. Nobody’s relieved. Nobody’s resigned. No one’s taken accountability or responsibility,’ Waltz said.
As a proud veteran, it’s sickening to witness and impossible to forget. From August 15 to the 30, 2021, the eyes of the world were fixed on Kabul.
People saw with their own eyes desperate locals scrambling to get on planes at Hamid Karzai International Airport, trying to flee a murderous regime that would send their country back decades.
They stormed the tarmacs and dangled from US military planes as they lifted off – only to fall to their deaths. Women, children and infants waited for days around the airport, standing in filthy canals, packed in like animals – praying for a seat that would fly them to freedom.
For Marines and veterans like me, the chaos of the withdrawal was personal.
I knew the country well after four deployments to Afghanistan spanning from 2001 to 2010.
One year since the last American military aircraft left Kabul airport, President Biden has still not answered the question: How could he lead America into one of the most humiliating and unnecessarily deadly military withdrawals in our history and stay mum?
A Taliban sniper brought my military career and nearly my life to an early end. A picture of that moment has become one of among many iconic images of America’s war there.
We risked our lives and we watched as the fighting killed more friends than we can count — on the frontlines and back home from suicide.
The worst part of all of this is that it didn’t have to be this way.
We wouldn’t be here, a year later, demanding answers, had President Biden only heeded the wise counsel of his military advisers.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the former chief of US Central Command, recently said he warned Biden against withdrawing US troops, adding the Pentagon made it clear that a rapid Taliban takeover would be the result.
‘I advised against withdrawing, my recommendation and my opinion, and it remains so today, was we had the opportunity to remain in the country with a small force,’ said Gen. McKenzie, who led Central Command during the chaotic military pullout.
‘We believed that Kabul would fall if we pulled out our troops. It was just a question of when Kabul would fall and we have been saying that really since the fall of the year,’ before the pullout, he said.
The people in charge of such a travesty must be held responsible.
It’s not about politics, but the truth, plain and simple.
Thousands of lives lost, billions of dollars left behind, and the only ones who paid any price are those who spoke up and asked for accountability for those in charge.
Like Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, who lost his command, his 17-year career, and his retirement for posting a social media video that went viral, criticizing the abysmal operation the president signed off on.
People saw with their own eyes desperate locals trying to flee a murderous regime that would send their country back decades. Women, children and infants waited for days around the airport, standing in filthy canals, packed in like animals – praying for a seat that would fly them to freedom
It’s estimated more than $7 billion worth of arms and equipment was ultimately left for the Taliban to steal from the incompetent Afghan National Army.
That’s not just a bunch of M4 rifles and Humvees, but thermal and night vision optics. Blackhawk helicopters. High explosives. Entire military bases.
The joke is now on us: We not only failed to account for and recover our own equipment, but somehow we succeeded in providing superior equipment to an enemy.
The United States military consists of over 2.1 million personnel and are led by eight individuals, the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
These eight generals and admirals are supposed to be our military’s pinnacle of leadership and embody the leadership values and esprit de corps that are taught to every Marine, Sailor, Soldier and Airmen.
I look at the eight-man council now and see such a lack of leadership I wouldn’t trust them to run a bath, much less a military operation.
Harsh? I don’t think so.
Not one has stepped up and displayed one of the corps tenants of leadership: Accountability.
Bill Bee, author
When the commander-in-chief ordered the immediate withdrawal of all forces, what did these supposed pinnacles of leadership do?
Did they resign? No.
Even Gen. McKenzie stayed on to watch Afghanistan fall to the Taliban – exactly as he had predicted. They collected their $17,000-a-month paycheck and returned to their ivory towers.
You don’t need my experience to know that every bit of this embarrassment could have been avoided with some goddamned common sense and the application of a little leadership and intestinal fortitude.
In 1945, Admiral Chester Nimitz, when speaking of the Battle of Iwo Jima, said: ‘Uncommon valour was a common virtue.’
In today’s parlance that would be: ‘Common sense is an uncommon virtue.’
And apparently, judging from President Biden’s silence marking a year since this shameful event, so is honesty.