The shitshow at Karzai International Airport was looking like explosive diarrhea, but an Immodium shower seems to have happened. Full planes are departing, empty ones are arriving, troops are there, and it all seems less frantic from my comfortable perch on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.
The Defense Department has taken over the briefings, while the hapless officials at the State Department have faded and have quit giving absurd replies to journalists’ questions they don’t like, which was pretty much all of them. Defense Department spox seem to be straightforward and as transparent as possible. Did something happen?
My amateur eye is impressed so far with the Defense Department’s conduct. At least 5,000 troops are there to secure the airport, with more on the way. Getting that many people there that quickly was pretty good, and it isn’t just the people with guns. They have to eat something, sleep somewhere, rotate shifts, get medical care, shit, shower, and shave, and so on. It’s not just the folks with guns, it’s the support they require as well. It’s been a Class A logistics achievement.
Karzai Airport has one runway. At times, full planes depart every ten minutes, if I heard this morning’s briefing correctly, with empty planes also landing. Moreover, fighter jets are circling overhead. That means, to me, that air traffic control is pretty good in the middle of all the chaos. The Defense Department has done all that in just a couple of days.
The State Department still has to “process” the non-Americans who want to leave, and the bureaucratic process appears to be stifling. The army can’t do that part, nor should it. But still, compared to just a couple of days ago, I wondered if the operation’s management had shifted from State to Defense.
Why did the State Department mess up? Was it because the staff had been gutted during the prior administration? Was it because whoever was doing the work wasn’t good at it? Poor planning, or even zero planning? We don’t know. We’ll find out in the post mortem.