Share This Episode
Brian Kilmeade Show Brian Kilmeade Logo

Producers’ Pick | Lt. Col. Scott Mann: Honoring a promise in Afghanistan

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade
The Truth Network Radio
September 3, 2022 12:00 am

Producers’ Pick | Lt. Col. Scott Mann: Honoring a promise in Afghanistan

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 486 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

September 3, 2022 12:00 am

Lt. Col. Scott Mann (Ret.) on his new book “Operation Pineapple Express: The Incredible Story of a Group of Americans Who Undertook One Last Mission and Honored a Promise in Afghanistan”

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Sekulow Radio Show
Jay Sekulow & Jordan Sekulow
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Focus on the Family
Jim Daly
Sekulow Radio Show
Jay Sekulow & Jordan Sekulow

Well, let's turn to Scott Mann.

If you're watching on Fox Nation, you probably see him. Scott, welcome. Hey, thanks Brian. What were you doing before the pullout of Afghanistan? I was, well, I have a leadership company that I teach human connection skills that I learned as a Green Beret. But also we were about to launch our play, Last Out Elegy of a Green Beret, that I wrote and performed in to complete my midlife crisis. But we were launching it on Amazon Prime. We were getting ready to put it out.

We had worked for years on this thing. We toured the country with it as a stage play, as a stage play. And the whole idea was to help Americans understand the cost of modern war and the impact on our families. And so we used veterans to tell the story from the stage.

Very, very powerful play. And Covid shut it down. So we turned it into a film and we were getting ready to launch it.

And you get ready to launch it. And then all of a sudden you start seeing this Afghanistan deal cut during the Trump years. But to me, especially if to do my research, there's no way it would have unfolded like this. Right. I agree.

I agree. But having said that, when you start realizing that the Afghan army is not going to stand, that Gahani might not be the leader we thought, what are you thinking? I was hearing from Nizam and other friends of mine who were... Who was Nizam?

Nizam was an Afghan commando and Afghan special forces NCO that I'd known since 2010, who was in duress in Afghanistan. He was trying to get out. He was being hunted by the Taliban, receiving text messages.

And he started contacting me in early summer saying that things are falling apart. Province after province was falling like dominoes. And he said, I think the country is going to flip in a month.

And he was like two days off. So a lot of us in the SF community, the special ops community, we were already looking at this thing going, it's going to fall. It's going to fall. And we were mobilized and trying to get involved with our partners. Back up a little bit. When did you get involved in the armed forces? I joined the army in 1991. I'd always... I grew up in a little logging town in Mount Ida, Arkansas, and met at Green Beret when I was 14. And when I met that guy, I knew right then that's what I was going to do. So you joined?

I did. How soon until you were special forces? It took about five years. It's about a five year wait.

You have to... They don't... As an officer, you have to be a first lieutenant promotable. So I did a tour of duty down in Panama. And then when I was eligible to try out, it was 1995.

So it was about a five year wait, and then about an 18 month pipeline to go through that to get your Green Beret. Where were you on 9-11? I was actually at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and 7th Special Forces Group. And on my way to Fort Pickett, Virginia, when the towers were hit, we did a U-turn in the medium and went and watched the rest of it at group headquarters. And we all knew as a special forces regiment that our lives had changed forever.

And where did you go? Well, first of all, my Ranger buddy Cliff was killed in the Pentagon on 9-11. He was my first friend to lose in the war out of 23.

And, you know, it hit me right out of the gate. But 7th Group was actually held in strategic reserve for the first couple of years of the war. 5th Group went in first and third, and then 7th Group finally got the nod in 04. So my first deployment into Afghanistan of several was started in 04-05. And what was the situation on the ground at that point? At that point, it was, you know, Iraq was already going on. Iraq was already going on. It was and really was the weight of effort for the United States at that point.

The bulk of the, you know, war assets and material was there. Afghanistan was not a backwater, but it was certainly it had subsided somewhat. But what we saw when I got there in 04 was you still the Afghan army was fledgling.

It was just getting started. There had not been an Afghan army since like 1978. And so we were working with mostly militias and local groups, but the Afghan army was just getting underway.

And that's what I found myself doing in 04 was helping them stand up. How did they respond? Initially, they were not a great fighting force at all. In fact, I would say that the general purpose Afghan army and the general purpose police force were a paper tiger. Morale was terrible. Desertions were terrible. They were a lot of corruption within the officer corps.

It was too big. We tried to build the military. This is where we made a lot of mistakes in Afghanistan across all the administrations. We tried to build an army in our image. We tried to build a Western army and they were nowhere near capable of that. And they couldn't handle the type of requirements that it takes to sustain an army like that.

And to give you an example, like they require precision fires, platforms, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and those all contractor heavy. We pulled all the contractors out in June with no warning and the army just collapsed. Right. Now, that was crazy. They said if we if we kept some semblance there, the NATO was willing to stay.

Yeah. And they didn't they had to find out through news reports, not even through a direct contact that we were leaving. Yeah, we burned partnerships on so many levels with this thing. But you know, you think about 20 years, really, Brian, starting in 2008, the Afghan or excuse me, the special forces and the special ops community really started putting its effort into building partner capacity with Afghan special operators, commandos, special forces.

Here's General Frank McKenzie, he sent come commander cup 48. We believe that Kabul would fall if we pull out our troops. It was just a question of when Kabul would fall. And we have been saying that really since the fall of the year before that had been a consistent position of Central Command, our subordinates in Afghanistan, that if we leave, they're going to collapse. And we left and they did.

What do you think when you hear that? Well, it aggravates me because I know that there were several general officers that gave that warning. You know, they they made a Miller who quit rather than preside over it.

Miller, McKenzie, I think Millie even gave the warnings, you know, candidly, but but they were not heated at all. And the other thing, though, that kind of bothers me about that whole thing is it is just me personally is I would love to have seen somebody put their stars on the table as a result of that. I mean, you got 30, 40 years in, man, what better way to make a stand for the military community rather than, you know, like those kinds of comments that are one year later?

I mean, throw it on the table and take a stand. And and maybe that might just push this back from the Fox News podcast network. I'm Janice Dean, Fox News senior meteorologist. Be sure to subscribe to the Janice Dean podcast at Fox News podcast dot com or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

And don't forget to spread the sunshine. Here's more from Mackenzie about what went into that decision to stay or go cut 47. So in your opinion, was the withdrawal a mistake? I advised against withdrawing my recommendation and my opinion, and it remains so today was we had the opportunity to remain in the country with a small force. I realize the Taliban could very well have chosen to attack us, but I do not believe, based on the intelligence I was reading at the time, that we would have that we would have been forced to add more forces in order to maintain a twenty five hundred force level in Afghanistan. We have coupled that force level with an aggressive diplomatic campaign against the Taliban, probably more aggressive than the Doha agreement in those negotiations. So it would have been a whole of government effort, but it remains my position that we had the opportunity to stay, keep the Afghanistan, the government of Afghanistan running. And when they didn't, he stayed and he presided over the collapse.

Right. Mackenzie gets a call. Do you want to do you want to Kabul is now empty. Do you want to take Kabul or do you want me to from El Bardar and El Bardar was told we just want the airport. How bad was that decision?

It was terrible. I mean, first of all, the the the way in which this went down, I mean, we had other what they call them a pods, but they're basically, you know, they're they're large bases that could have facilitated a much more deliberate withdrawal. Bagram Air Force Base, Kandahar Air Force Base, and we just gave those up. But then also to just give up Kabul and then try to defend a little postage stamp like like HKIA just for a for a noncombatant evacuation. It was it was a recipe for disaster. What did you what was what was the reality on the ground? How many guys and how many families were you looking to get out?

And when did you realize you'd have to do it yourself? I don't think any of us never a lot of volunteer efforts underway. None of us knew the the true magnitude of the problem. What we knew here is what we knew.

Brian, we knew that these special operators who we had helped train the commandos, the special forces, the KKA, these amazing operators were our best bet. To keep Al Qaeda and ISIS at bay for the long term. And we were about to just turn them over. So for all of us, it was how do we just keep them alive? Because surely the government's going to take this over.

We'll just hand them over to the government and they'll take it. But they left the state. Did the embassy just let everyone vacated?

Yep. The new embassy was actually at HKIA. And I talk about that in the book. It was actually in a former CIA bar inside the inside the airfield. But but our thought was, all right, we're just we know who they are. We know where they are and they trust us. The commandos, the special forces, we're going to keep them safe. We're going to try to move them to certain points on the gate. We'll hand them off to the 82nd, to the Marines.

And then surely at some point, special operations will come take them from us and we can hand them over. But it was the 82nd. Well, the 82nd and the Marines, you know, they were all pulling security around the perimeter. How many troops did they get in there in a matter of weeks? Oh, it was it was a couple thousand.

I think was the total. It was a small it was a small contingent. It was enough to hold the airfield. But remember, they were held back.

They were not allowed to push beyond the perimeter. So the recovery of these high value at risk targets, you guys, it was up. It was up to them to move themselves.

They're guided by these volunteer groups. And it worked. But the sad part about it was we were only able to facilitate a fraction of those who really should. How many?

I think somewhere around 700, 700 to 1000. That's amazing when you feel you could do more. More with Scott Mann in a moment. His book is now out. Operation Pineapple expressed the incredible story of a group of Americans who undertook one last mission and honored a promise in Afghanistan. My words, because the government didn't because President Biden chose not to. Ramp these numbers up to five to seven thousand a day coming out. If that's the case, they'll be they'll all be out because we've got like 10 to 15000 Americans in the country right now, right? And are you committed to making sure that the troops stay until every American who wants to be out? Yes, out. Yes.

How about our Afghan allies? Does the commitment hold for them as well? The commitment holds to get everyone out that in fact we can get out and everyone should come out. And that's the objective. That's what we're doing now. That's the path we're on.

And I think we'll get. So he totally did not tell the truth. He left anyway. And he said, well, I never had a complete list of who was there because they never reported to the embassy when they went to Afghanistan. Scott Mann here, author of Operation Pineapple Express, just chronicles what he did, putting together a group of veterans to help get our Afghan allies and Americans out of Afghanistan because President Biden wouldn't. Your reaction to that exchange?

It's just so hard to listen to. And it just I think it just conjures up so many moral injuries that so many in the veteran community feel. I mean, first of all, for our American citizens, it turns out there were a lot more of them behind enemy lines than than was talked about. But also for our Afghan commandos and the special forces.

I'll tell you this, Brian. Minister Hasina Safi was the minister for women's affairs. She was the most hunted woman in Afghanistan, right? She was on the run. State Department wouldn't get her out.

They would not open the gates for her. This is the minister for women's affairs who was being hunted by the Taliban for standing up for women's rights. She ended up coming through the Pineapple Express, wading through an open sewage canal with her family and pulled through a four foot hole in the fence by an 82nd Airborne First Sergeant.

That's how she escaped Afghanistan, the most hunted woman in Afghanistan. So where was all of the women's advocacy during that moment? Where are they now? And where are they now? And the thing is, so you had a State Department, an embassy that was built like a four-time it was built like a fortress.

I wasn't there, but you were. I guess that the embassy is unbelievable in Afghanistan and they just abandoned it right away. I guess there's a fear of there being another Iran hostage situation. So they left that all that area and their paperwork, they grinded it up. So do you believe this is the State Department, the State Department authored this evacuation? I believe that the displacement from the State Department and other buildings like that was part of the NEO. There was always this plan to collapse on the airport, right?

I don't think that was the right play. I think we should have fought to hold Kabul in a more expansive way because here's the thing, we could not recover the American citizens. We could not recover the green card holders. We could not recover the at-risk Afghans because we were in a sole defensive posture at the airfield and we lost momentum.

We lost initiative. Right, and how many of those planes ended up leaving Afghanistan empty? I don't know the number of that. I know there were a lot. And then I also know that it's called the most successful airlift in American history.

And here's where I have a problem with that. I believe the US forces that went into HKIA and did what they did are to be commended. They did yeoman's work, but the vetting of the 100,000 plus that came out, only a fraction, like maybe 1% were the special immigration visas, the at-risk Afghans, the rest were not.

And so that's where I have a real problem with how this went down. Scott Mann here, one of the founders of Operation Pineapple Express, you needed third countries to cooperate. You started getting planes in to get people out and you couldn't get the State Department or an ambassador to pick up the phone to be able to accept these American allies and Americans. Yeah, it's really been frustrating, at least from my vantage point on the level of support with not just the State Department, but DOD in terms of getting these at-risk allies out. Now, some groups have had more success than others, but what I will tell you is that this private-public partnership, that really is what this was, these were private groups working with the government who really did a heavy lift to present responsibly these highly vetted individuals. To me, the government has not really acknowledged the role of these groups even to this day. And now one year from today, are you surprised so little has been mentioned about this withdrawal? I was talking to Zach, one of our Pineapple conductors, and he said that this anniversary is actually harder than the actual collapse because it just feels like no one has done anything. 73% of our veterans feel betrayed, 67% feel humiliated because of this withdrawal.

And they shouldn't be because they fought so brilliantly and adapted to a very complex battlefield over the course of 20 years, gave people a chance at a good life. Operation Pineapple Express did great things. Go out and pick up Lieutenant Colonel Scott Mann's book. Scott, it's been great talking to you. Thank you, Brian. Brain kill me, Jeff.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-15 07:12:55 / 2023-02-15 07:20:11 / 7

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime