Leadership Lessons from Joe Biden and Afghanistan

"I’m sure more lessons will unfold as time goes on, but the important lesson is that during moments of crisis, there is always something for leaders to learn." - Phil Cooke

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Bert Perry's picture

....have a plan that won't elicit instant mockery from any halfway competent sergeant anywhere in the Army or Marines.  No doubt that getting people out would have been incredibly difficult, both citizens and employees, but you've at least got to have a plan before you shut down Bagram!

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

....but that doesn't explain why the generals, who clearly have managed something, are screwing up this badly, and why Biden isn't listening to them, or why they don't dare tell him the truth.    This is really beyond incompetence.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dgszweda's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

....but that doesn't explain why the generals, who clearly have managed something, are screwing up this badly, and why Biden isn't listening to them, or why they don't dare tell him the truth.    This is really beyond incompetence.


I listened to a good interview with the head of NATO about the challenges there.  What he made clear was that everyone knew it was going to fall.  It probably didn't make any sense to stay there.  What threw them off was the utter speed in the fall.  It wasn't even estimated in their most pessimistic view.  We need to keep in mind that the country essentially fell in less than a week without a shot being fired by a force that was far inferior than the current forces.  

The problem was that Trump ramped down Troops from 13,000 to 2,500, but there was no real plan for the 25,000 other Americans in the country.  Biden was handed this along with the mandate and agreement to leave.  Biden didn't help himself at all with the approach either, but the whole thing was rotten from the beginning.

AndyE's picture

It's surprising to me how many non-military Americans were in Afghanistan. I suppose many of these were contractors, but 25,000 (and I've heard larger numbers than this)? I read something yesterday about a group of high school students from San Diego on a summer trip to Afghanistan that were having a hard time getting out.  Who in the world thought it was a good idea to sponsor a summer trip abroad to Afghanistan for a bunch of high schoolers?!?  There is a lot of stupidity to go around, it seems.

dgszweda's picture

AndyE wrote:

It's surprising to me how many non-military Americans were in Afghanistan. I suppose many of these were contractors, but 25,000 (and I've heard larger numbers than this)? I read something yesterday about a group of high school students from San Diego on a summer trip to Afghanistan that were having a hard time getting out.  Who in the world thought it was a good idea to sponsor a summer trip abroad to Afghanistan for a bunch of high schoolers?!?  There is a lot of stupidity to go around, it seems.

That school group blew my mind.  What were people thinking!

Bert Perry's picture

I think that the electorate would be very forgiving of Biden if he'd made moves to get our people out and secure Bagram before we withdrew from Bagram.  Sure, it's a big place, hard to get around, lots of people would love to take shots at you.  You're not going to be 100%, but if you at least get things in the basic right order and plan for who and what needs to be evacuated, you're going to be treated well.

Again, Biden's plan is one that any halfway capable sergeant would laugh out of the room for these reasons, something that every plebe at West Point ought to cringe at.  I can forgive the complicated things where you're talking Ranger or Seal training to achieve with a minimum of casualties.  I cannot comprehend why  such obvious things were missed by anyone above the rank of corporal.  There should have been some resignations in protest.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dgszweda's picture

Just from August 1st til today, the US has evacuated 101,300 people.  This is crazy how many people were still in the country this late in the game.  They still are expecting to get almost 75,000 more people out before the end of the month.  It seems that the troop drawdown was the easiest and smallest group.

Paul Henebury's picture

If NATO knew the fall was coming why didn't the non-military Americans etc. seem to know?

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

dgszweda's picture

Paul Henebury wrote:

If NATO knew the fall was coming why didn't the non-military Americans etc. seem to know?

I think everyone knew it was coming, it was all about the timing.  Everyone thought it was going to be more than a year out.

Bert Perry's picture

Paul Henebury wrote:

If NATO knew the fall was coming why didn't the non-military Americans etc. seem to know?

I think the trick is that the U.S. trained the Afghan army to depend on air power, and then withdrew support for the Afghan Air Force.  More or less, they didn't fly without American ex-pats, one of whom is the father of some kids I know at church.  So my guess is that everybody knew that the Taliban would be coming at some point, but few foresaw the degree of idiocy that actually occurred. 

This is closing in on what the Russians did in WWI--the generals didn't get along, so they didn't get encrypted battle plans to the front via secure courier in time.  Hence they ended up broadcasting battle plans in straight AM, and Paul von Hindenburg just happened to have a few subordinates who spoke Russian.  Hence the Russian disasters in 1914.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.