When the U.S. military pulled it’s last remaining troops out of Afghanistan on Tuesday, they left behind several hundred Americans and around 60,000 Afghan allies.
For many, including retired LTC Scott Mann, leaving those citizens behind was a tough pill to swallow.
“We know instinctively, you know, in our gut, in our solar plexus, that we don’t leave our friends. We don’t leave anybody behind and we keep our promises” Mann said.
That’s why Mann, along with other Afghan veterans, bravely decided to launch a major private operation to rescue the remaining Americans and Afghan allies who are still trapped in Afghanistan.
“We are about to embark on a private recovery operation of western citizens as well as Afghan allies who we made a promise to,” Mann declared.
“If you’re a citizen and you’re in duress, you know, we will eventually find you. Stay low, stay safe, be smart and do everything that you can to survive. Same with our Afghan partners. We’re doing everything that we can to find you, to reach you and to help you reach safety.”
Mr Mann explained that the US made a promise to its partners: “If it got too hot or too dangerous based on their sacrifice for their country and us, then the State Department would provide them a special immigration visa to get their family to safety.”
But as the August 31 withdrawal deadline drew nearer, hands were wrung from Washington to London when it became increasingly clear that in thousands of cases, that promise was not going to be kept.
Meanwhile Mr Mann, along with an ad-hoc group of retired Green Berets, SEALs, Marines and other volunteers, were busy leading a monumental effort to get as many as possible of those at risk out, in an operation dubbed ‘Pineapple Express.’The Independent
Mann spent 18 years as a Green Beret during his 23 years serving our country. And he said that the rescue missions he has conducted the past week have been “the most horrific and challenging thing” that he’s ever seen.
Mann, along with his team of other former Green Berets, Marines, SEALS and volunteers, conducted secret missions utilizing on-the-ground networks and trusted relationships they developed over 20 years.
Members of the team estimate they were already able to rescue as many as 700 people out of Afghanistan, helping them pass through the city which was littered with Taliban checkpoints.
“There were secret passages between the Taliban checkpoint and the actual airfield itself. There were holes in the fence. You had to move through sewage canals and things like that.”
Mann is now calling on the U.S. government to be ready to receive westerners and Afghan allies that his team is able to rescue. He also sent a direct message to President Biden amid his private evacuation efforts: “We are going to move these people, they are coming out of this country, we‘re not asking permission. We’re honouring our promise as combat veterans.”