T he end was going to be painful. During the course of several administrations, the American public has grown tired of the war in Afghanistan and simply wanted it to end. The Biden administration decided to rip the bandage off, but unfortunately, it appears that they ripped off a tourniquet and we are watching the hemorrhaging of American honor and the death of the hopes and dreams of many Afghans—particularly for many girls and women.
The war in Afghanistan began on September 11, 2001. I was a freshly selected one-star admiral, the gold braid brand-new on the sleeves of my service dress blue uniform. My office was on the outer “E-ring” of the Pentagon, and through the windows across the corridor, I glimpsed a Boeing 757 just before it struck the building. The nose of American Airlines flight 77 hit the Pentagon’s second floor. I was about 150 feet away on the fourth floor, and was spared.
As the flames and smoke engulfed the section of Pentagon with my office, I stumbled down several flights of stairs out onto the grassy field below and tried to do what I could for the survivors and wounded until the first responders arrived. All I could think of was the irony of the day for me: after decades in the military, I had seen my share of combat—yet I was almost killed in what we all believed was one of the safest buildings in the world. The Pentagon is guarded by the strongest military on earth in the capital of the richest and most powerful country on the planet. Yet it was there where I came the closest to being killed over the course of my 37-year career.