The hands of the clock were approaching midnight in Kabul. The last American soldiers Those who remained in Afghanistan were already on board the last C-17 military transport plane that remained on the runway of the capital’s airport. The evacuation was coming to an end, after 122,000 civilians extracted over two weeks, an operation unparalleled in the war history of the United States.
And the last soldier on the ground, Brigadier General Chris Donahue, in combat uniform, rifle in his right hand, he walked up the ramp. The door closed, at one minute after twelve the plane took off, and the two decades of American war in Afghanistan came to an end. Behind,
the Taliban celebrated, firing into the air, their return to power.
A soldier immortalized the moment, with a night vision camera, which gives the image uus greenish tones very typical of the lackluster end of this war that recently seemed eternal. The Defense Department shared the snapshot on social media with the following message: “The last US soldier to leave Afghanistan.”
That of Private Donahue, a very high risk mission, the largest of this entire evacuation. The reason is that those last Americans to leave Kabul no longer had protection on the ground, as they were left behind, at the mercy of the Taliban, defense systems against rocket, artillery and mortar attacks. Just a few days before they had died 13 US soldiers and 180 civilians in a suicide attack at the entrance to the airport. A new attack was not a far-fetched idea.
The C-17 in which Donahue was riding was the last of five, in which the last diplomats and soldiers left. Commander Kenneth McKenzie told the media on Monday when announcing the final departure from Afghanistan, the last thing Brigadier General Donahue did before getting on the plane was «Talk to the Taliban commander with whom you had been coordinating to let them know the time we were leaving just to let them know we were leaving ».
Donahue is commander of the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army, XVIII Airborne Corps, nicknamed “the dragons of the sky.” Despite what ahasty and dire of withdrawal, this uniformed man has an undoubted achievement: he did not lose civilians during the evacuation. Those who died were killed by a suicide bombing outside the airport, where the Taliban were in charge of security.
In total, as reported by the Pentagon, Donahue and his colleagues 122,000 civilians were evacuated, including 6,000 citizens Americans, as well as all American diplomatic personnel. At its peak there were 5,800 American soldiers at the Kabul airport, under the supervision of Donahue and other generals.
Graduated in 1992 from the prestigious West Point Military Academy, and trained at Harvard University, Donahue has served 17 different missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and North Africa. He also participated in 2014 in Operation Atlantic Resolve, as commander of the 4th Infantry Division, in the deployment of troops in Poland and the Baltic States to deter Russia after the annexation of Crimea. For this, he has been decorated in abundance. He has the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star, among others.
He also has experience in the intricate corridors of power in the US capital. He was a special assistant to the Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon and has been commander of the joint special operations task force in Afghanistan.
Commander Donahue’s departure, with that soulless photo, ended a two-decade long war in which 775,000 American soldiers have served. From them, 2,461 died, the last 13 in the attack on August 26.