Army Gives Conflicting Statements on Taliban War Trophy Story – RedState

Opinion’s unique report about Afghan evacuees being deserted in Afghanistan so Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue might have a Taliban Toyota Hilux w/rear-mounted Russian ZU-23 anti-aircraft weapon (struggle trophy) loaded on one of many final C-17s out of Kabul has rattled some nerves at Fort Bragg, within the Pentagon, and past. Along with the curious assertion supplied to Opinion hours after its publication by Military Col. Joe Buccino, spokesman for the a hundred and first Airborne, its publication spurred a bit in Activity & Function purporting to be the “true story” of what occurred – and which conflicts with the assertion Buccino supplied and with different proof/information. Earlier than the Activity & Function piece was printed, although, I’d acquired one other assertion from Col. Buccino that conflicts with among the data in Activity & Function and which will likely be printed on this piece. As well as, Breitbart printed a narrative concerning the chaotic final two weeks in Afghanistan that contained some attention-grabbing tidbits from folks on the bottom.

Mainly, the narrative put forth within the Activity & Function story is that it was a Toyota Land Cruiser and never a Hilux; that it was an Afghan Nationwide Military truck (ANA) and never Taliban; that no evacuees or Americans had been denied passage to the USA as a result of truck taking over house in a C-17; that each one applicable paperwork was stuffed out for the truck to grow to be a museum piece; and that an bold Iraqi-born Non-public traded some ANA troopers two cans of chew for the truck.

The narrative set forth by each Activity & Function and Col. Buccino is solely not credible. I’ll undergo the weather of the narrative then level out the conflicting statements or proof.

1. When Fort Bragg troopers arrived in Kabul they had been “mild on tools” and didn’t have machine weapons.

Lt. Col Andy Harris and Non-public First Class Alsajjad Al Lami spoke with Activity & Function, saying that when the first Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment arrived at Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport (HKIA) simply after 7 am native time on August 16 they had been “mild on tools.”

“The main focus was getting troops into Kabul, he mentioned, which meant there wasn’t a lot room for ‘our heavy tools or automobiles with our heavy machine weapons.’”

“We simply had our fundamental weapons, we didn’t have any heavy machine weapons, any gun vans or something,” mentioned Pfc. Al Lami.

Nonetheless, in line with a Breitbart article printed inside hours of the Activity & Function piece, a US service member who didn’t wish to be recognized mentioned they discovered machine weapons, RPGs, and rocket launchers there that had been deserted by Afghan safety forces:

Afghan safety forces additionally deserted 1000’s of weapons and munitions on the airport. “There’s simply weapons laying in every single place and RPGs, AT4 [rocket launchers], grenades, machine weapons, rifles, pistols, explosives, et cetera,” he mentioned.

And, the state of affairs at HKIA, the Breitbart article mentions the U.S. navy utilizing Apaches as a part of the trouble to realize management of the airport and the help of Turkish forces:

The U.S. navy tried to make use of Apaches to disperse among the folks flooding onto the runways.

Across the identical time, U.S. and Turkish forces — who had been beforehand answerable for airport safety — fired warning pictures to attempt to clear the runways. At the least one Afghan man was by chance injured by a U.S. service member firing a warning shot. The person later died of his accidents.

2. US paratroopers, led by an Iraqi-born PFC who served as translator, traded ANA troops who had been altering areas two cans of chew for the keys to the Land Cruiser. 

Based on Harris and Al Lami, the US Military acquired the “truck” from ANA troops who had been altering areas.

[T]he Afghan forces had their very own gear, together with an olive inexperienced Afghan Nationwide Military truck mounted with a Russian-made 14.5mm ZPU-2 anti-aircraft gun. On Aug. 17, when the Afghan troops knowledgeable Bravo Firm that they had been transferring to a different space of the airport, the paratroopers requested in the event that they wouldn’t thoughts handing over the keys.

“There have been two guys standing by the truck, and we requested them if that they had the keys,” Al Lami mentioned. “They had been like, ‘Yeah we do have the keys.’ And so they gave us the keys for 2 cans of dip.”

[H]advert it not been for Pfc. Alsajjad Al Lami, the Iraqi-born U.S. Military soldier, the Toyota Land Cruiser might need remained the place it was, deserted by Afghan forces, as a substitute of being utilized by American troops to protect the airport and maintain the encompassing Taliban fighters at bay.

Since translators had been additionally scarce, Al Lami served as translator, in line with the article. As well as, he reportedly had some expertise that might be useful in utilizing the Russian anti-aircraft gun (as if our Paratroopers couldn’t determine it out):

“Al Lami, 25, was born and raised in Iraq. He mentioned his father labored as a translator for the U.S. navy there, which instilled in him a deep want to serve within the U.S. Military. After he graduated highschool, Al Lami mentioned he needed to full a compulsory service obligation in Iraq’s navy, however he solely ended up serving for six months earlier than he left for faculty within the U.S….

“Al Lami knew tips on how to work the ZPU-2 because of his quick stint within the Iraqi navy. “

One drawback with that story. Iraq hasn’t had a compulsory service obligation since 2003, when Al Lami would have been six years previous, so he couldn’t have accomplished a compulsory service obligation when he was 18. That brings up one other query – how did he have a lot information about tips on how to function a ZPU-2? And, was it a ZPU-2 or a ZU-23?

There’s a Land Cruiser pictured within the Activity & Function article, however is that the identical truck that Donahue allegedly prioritized on that final day over evacuees? Additional down in the identical piece a press release from Col. Brett Lea, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division, contradicts each the make of the truck and from whom it was acquired (emphasis added):

“No personnel had been faraway from any plane departing HKIA to make room for the Taliban Hilux.”

In his first on-the-record assertion to Opinion Col. Buccino, extremely, used the very same phrases. And, in line with Buccino, he’s not even in the identical unit as Lea. Buccino’s assertion has an extra sentence, although, clarifying that it was seized from the Taliban.

“No personnel had been faraway from any plane departing HKIA to make room for the Taliban Hilux….

The Hilux truck, taken from the Taliban on the airfield on August seventeenth, was loaded onto a C-17 for motion to the US on August thirtieth….

Lea might have used these phrases as nicely, however it’s unclear whether or not Activity & Function printed Lea’s whole assertion. In any occasion, was it taken from the Taliban, or was it acquired via barter with pleasant ANA troops? These are fairly totally different eventualities. Or, is it doable that, given the variations in description, that there are two vans that had been loaded onto C-17’s in the course of the withdrawal?

3 The “truck” performed a significant function in securing the airport and deterring Taliban fighters, and that’s why it’s coming to the US.

From Activity & Function:

For days, the ZPU-2 was utilized by American troops as a present of drive to the Taliban on the opposite facet of the airport’s gate….

The truck served as a main deterrent to Taliban fighters as U.S. troops landed in Kabul to help with the huge evacuation effort there.

Maj. Gen. Donahue additionally gave a press release:

In a press release to Activity & Function, Donahue mentioned the story of the truck is “emblematic of the grit, self-discipline, and excessive competence” his paratroopers displayed at HKIA.

“This truck will sit on the 82nd Airborne Museum in order that our Paratroopers, their households and future generations to come back will know that when confronted with a mission of unprecedented scope and complexity, the Paratroopers rose to fulfill this problem,” Donahue mentioned.

Buccino’s assertion in my preliminary piece was a bit totally different, referencing “confiscating” the Hilux from “the Taliban,” and that confiscation led to the US regaining the tactical benefit at HKIA:

The truck, as soon as right through customs and the navy authorized course of, will function a logo within the 82nd Airborne Division Museum on Fort Bragg of how the Division got here right into a chaotic state of affairs and by confiscating the Hilux from the Taliban we shortly regained the tactical benefit so as to full the mission.

Hmm. None of them talked about the armed drones we had there, one among which was used as late as August 29 (within the horrific bombing, approved by Donahue, that killed seven youngsters), as extra of a deterrent to the Taliban than an anti-aircraft gun (what number of plane did the Taliban management in Kabul in mid-August?), or the Apache helicopters that had been.

4. No one was faraway from a C-17 to make manner for the Hilux, and there was loads of room on the planes.

Along with stating that no “personnel” had been faraway from any plane to make room for the Hilux, Lea instructed Activity & Function:

“Actually, plane house was not a difficulty in any respect by way of getting Americans, Afghan SIVs, or at-risk Afghans out of HKIA within the remaining days of the evacuation mission.”

Buccino, a spokesman for the 18th Airborne Corps, used the very same wording. Except there’s a totally different definition, “personnel” doesn’t imply HVAFG, or “high-value Afghans,” or Afghan SIVs, and even Americans. Whereas one Military officer who spoke to Opinion on situation of anonymity mentioned that so long as Americans, SIV holders, and the like received to the airport and previous the Taliban there was house for them on the planes, we all know from separate sources that troopers in Donahue’s command had been turning away folks with the right documentation from the gates and that the State Division was telling them to take action.

Michael Yon, a retired particular forces soldier turned struggle correspondent, shared this screenshot with Simply The Information exhibiting that the US navy was knowingly leaving Americans and high-value Afghans behind, a few of whom had been screaming on the airport gates. A US Military Colonel assigned to the 82nd Airborne mentioned in a single textual content message to Yon, “Sure, we’re f***ing abandoning Americans. I’m so pissed.”

Textual content message between reporter Michael Yon and a US Military Captain on August 30, 2021

Yon emailed a US Military Main the subsequent day, expressing his displeasure.

“You guys left Americans on the gate of the Kabul airport. Three empty jets paid for by volunteers had been ready for them. You and I talked on the cellphone. I instructed you the place they had been. Gave you their passport photographs. And my e-mail and cellphone quantity. And also you left them behind.

“Nice job saving yourselves. Most likely get lots of medals.”

And we’re purported to imagine that it was all on the State Division? It’s positively not on the troopers on the gate, who had been following orders from higher-ups. The Colonel instructed Yon that for high-value Afghans to get on the flights it will take “an act of God.” No, it will take an act of Donahue. If a two-star normal needed these folks on the planes, they might have been there.

Buccino emailed an extra assertion within the days after the unique article was posted and requested that it’s printed in its entirety. I’m publishing it as acquired, in its entirety, right here, with my feedback interspersed.

“This text is riddled with inaccuracies. Amongst them:

1. The Hilux just isn’t “in a container truck on Fort Bragg.” The truck stays in Kuwait. If the truck is, in actual fact, on Fort Bragg, the reporter’s sources ought to be capable to take {a photograph} and ship it to Opinion to show me mistaken right here.

Once more Buccino refers back to the truck as a Hilux, however this time talked about that it “stays in Kuwait.” In his first assertion, he didn’t point out a selected nation. Buccino then challenges Opinion to have its sources take {a photograph} of the truck on Fort Bragg. This appears to be a really poorly veiled try and flush out Opinion’s sources and is disturbing.

2. I by no means made any remark concerning the detonation set for distant destruction of the C-RAM. Destruction of a C-RAM system just isn’t an space by which I’ve any coaching or information. I additionally was by no means on HKIA, nor am I assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, subsequently, it will make no sense for me to touch upon a matter I do know nothing about. I’m unfamiliar with the method of C-RAM destruction. Subsequently, I might not touch upon the matter.

There’s no proof of Buccino being in Kabul in the course of the withdrawal, and no assertion that he was. He isn’t assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division however is quoted as a spokesman for the 18th Airborne Corps, of which the 82nd Airborne is a component, in quite a few information tales all through the summer time and in the course of the withdrawal. In a Washington Examiner piece claiming that Donahue instructed a British particular forces commander to have his troops cease working exterior the airport’s perimeter as a result of “the British operations had been embarrassing the USA navy within the absence of comparable U.S. navy operations,” Buccino issued a denial on Donahue’s behalf.

Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for the XVIII Airborne Corps, denied that Donahue made such a request.

“The XVIII Airborne Corps denies the central thrust of this story,” the spokesman mentioned. “Particularly, Gen. Chris Donahue, whose sole focus is safety at HKIA, by no means made such a request to any British Military officers and would haven’t any motive for doing so.”

How might he have recognized that if he wasn’t at HKIA and isn’t assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division?

Subsequent, Buccino takes challenge with this line in Opinion’s preliminary piece, then distances himself from the MG.

A Pentagon supply talking on situation of anonymity instructed Opinion that some within the chain of command have been interviewed concerning the incident, together with Col. Joe Buccino.

Buccino states:

3. I’m not ‘within the chain of command.’ I’m nowhere in Normal Chris Donahue’s chain-of-command in any respect. We aren’t in the identical unit. My solely proximity to Normal Donahue is that we each reside on Fort Bragg.”

Whereas Buccino is actually appropriate, and there are some nuances that might be mentioned there, it’s a foolish argument as a result of it has nothing to do with the extraordinarily severe allegations within the piece and is merely an try and deflect. Additionally, as evidenced above, Buccino has been a spokesman for Donahue by advantage of his place with the 18th Airborne Corps. And, Donahue was a visitor on Buccino’s podcast in early June 2021 – an episode by which Buccino heaps reward on Donahue. Sure, Fort Bragg is an enormous set up, however for these two it’s a small world.

These conflicting statements from Military public affairs officers and the doubtful report (or true story) of how the “truck” was acquired simply result in extra questions – and so they’re questions for which Opinion is actively pursuing solutions.

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