by Tori Richards, Investigative Reporter | August 17, 2021
Throughout the Afghanistan withdrawal debacle and the Taliban’s rapid takeover, one person has been strangely silent: former President Barack Obama.
Former Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who spent nearly six years as special operations commander in Afghanistan, believes the onetime leader of the free world has not commented because he doesn’t want blowback for the catastrophic blunder he helped create.
“I’ve been contacted by guys who are over there. It’s described as a s***show,” Bolduc told the Washington Examiner. “They are trying to get as many people out as possible. The Air Force is literally taking off with a minimal amount of gas to fly and refueled in the air, God bless them.”
Obama shares the blame with the current administration because he created the situation that allowed the Taliban to gain control of large rural areas before American troops withdrew this week, according to Bolduc.
In December 2009, Obama announced the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops, bringing the U.S. total to around 100,000 at the start of 2010. Between 2010 and 2013, counterintelligence operations succeeded in driving out the Taliban and al Qaeda from villages and districts. The Afghan government controlled 90% of the country in 2013, and wartime casualty rates were at the lowest point during the war, Bolduc said.
“The Taliban even said, ‘We can’t fight against this, we can’t win against this.’ Al Qaeda was saying the same thing,” Bolduc said. “So what did we do? In 2014, O’Biden said, ‘We are going to change strategy and come out of villages and end combat ops.’ And our senior military officials accepted that.”
At the time, Bolduc and subordinate commanders wrote in numerous reports to the administration they were focusing on the wrong mission, and combat troops were still needed in the villages. According to Bolduc, such a move was a bad idea, and any security gains would be lost — al Qaeda will resurge, and casualties will go up.
“That is exactly what happened,” Bolduc said. “By 2016, the entire security force was gone, and by 2019, we had the highest casualty rate since we had been in Afghanistan.”
United Nations statistics show a record 1,729 civilians died in 2018.
Bolduc said soldiers needed more time in local villages to shore up control before a gradual drawdown of troops. Even as complicated as post-combat World War II was, it can’t even compare to how disastrous Afghanistan has been.
“If you just go back to World War II, it required the Marshall Plan, a plan to rebuild,” Bolduc said. “Not only Europe but Asia. Think about the planning that went into that — all we have here is one country, and we screwed that up.”