Military Says Cargo Crew Didn’t Do Anything Wrong When Leaving Afghanistan

Military Says Cargo Crew Didn't Do Anything Wrong When Leaving Afghanistan

The Verdict Is In On Cargo Crew’s Harrowing Departure From Afghanistan

( – The US military’s disastrous withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan became a public relations nightmare in 2021. Taliban forces ultimately stepped into power as a direct result, leaving thousands of Afghan and American citizens at the rebel group’s mercy. That eventually led to a troubled and sketchy evacuation effort. One situation in particular stands out as problematic, yet the US military claims troops did nothing wrong.

Making the Right Decision

On August 16, 2021, a C-17 touched down at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. The plane was attempting to deliver equipment to aid the evacuation effort at the time.

Hundreds of Afghans had already breached the airport’s security perimeter; they rapidly surrounded the plane. Video footage shows numerous Afghans swarming the C-17 in a desperate attempt to escape the Taliban.

Flight crew members decided the best course of action was to take off to ensure their own safety. Unfortunately, several Afghans attempted to climb and cling onto the plane. Some fell to their deaths, while others got caught in the wheel wells of the craft.

When the plane eventually landed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the military immediately located human remains within the wheel wells. News later broke that Zaki Anwari, a teen soccer player who dreamed of making the big leagues, was one of the citizens who attempted to climb the plane only to fall to his death.

While it’s all too easy to criticize the crew’s judgment from an outside perspective, military officials reviewed the situation nearly a year later and concluded that the crew made the right choice and acted appropriately in the moment. Ann Stefanek, a spokeswoman for the US Air Force, told ABC News that crew members “exercised sound judgment” in getting the plane back in the air as soon as possible. She also said their actions preserved the safety of the aircraft and its crew.


No one wants to leave their home without reason. However, many of the Afghans present that day wanted nothing more than to escape from under the Taliban’s thumb. That level of desperation drove them to try and climb the C-17 even though most had to know they couldn’t survive the flight. They likely believed staying behind would lead to an even worse end.

They were right. The situation quickly deteriorated after President Biden withdrew US troops from the region, leaving behind billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment. Vehicles, firearms, and other military devices now remain firmly in the hands of Taliban leaders.

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