CV NEWS FEED // A recent report revealed how the Biden administration’s COVID-19 policies contributed to the United States’ botched, deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 by causing staff shortages of critical medical and military personnel.
Investigative journalists Jerry Dunleavy and James Hasson found that the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates directly interfered with the efforts of the US Marines tasked with ensuring safety and efficacy during the weeks leading up to and during the evacuation from Afghanistan.
From April to October 2021, the combat arms unit, known as the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force—Crisis Response—Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC), was assigned to protect the American embassy in Afghanistan and stabilize the region.
Because some of the Marines were stationed at the embassy in Kabul, the whole unit was subject to the State Department’s policies, which mandated masking and vaccination.
As a result, countless unvaccinated soldiers were barred from going on missions leading up to and during the evacuation of Kabul.
“The rule’s only accomplishment was to deprive various Marine QRF units in Kabul of critical manpower and experience when it mattered most,” the report said, listing several examples of squad leaders that were barred from carrying out their mission for being unvaccinated.
“It seems pretty clear to me,” said one soldier, “that making those decisions because of a [expletive] COVID vaccine directly impacted the lives of people on the ground.”
Adherence to these policies leading up to the evacuation resulted in a lack of coherence among arms units, as there was a constant need to replace men who were barred from deployment due to their vaccination status.
As a result, tactical teams had no time to rehearse as a unit or delegate tasks before the evacuation.
One of the teams that deployed to Kabul for the evacuation “rearranged its organizational structure at least three times in the week before they went wheels up for Kabul, because the list of deployable paratroopers was constantly shifting,” according to the report.
Personnel shortages due to crippling quarantine rules and vaccine mandates extended across units, said the report—even preventing critical medical professionals from providing support at the airfield during the evacuation.
One surgeon assigned to a medical unit at the airfield was not allowed to deploy because he was unvaccinated. According to the report, his unit was forced to deploy a less experienced person in his place.
“There was no clear explanation why the unvaccinated surgeon had been considered medically fit to deploy to Bahrain but not to accompany his unit to Kabul months later,” the report added.
The State Department policies not only barred unvaccinated Marines from assisting in critical missions, but they also required soldiers to mask at all times—even if they were outside, alone, and in the sweltering heat, and even if masking compromised their ability to do their jobs.
“The masks quickly caused their eye protection to fog up, making it nearly impossible to see,” the report said. “Nevertheless, embassy employees were quick to reprimand any Marine who tried to sneak a few minutes without a pointless face cover while standing alone outside in the blazing sun.”
“Nearly every service member we spoke to mentioned the absurdity of the State Department’s approach to combat evacuation,” the journalists noted. One Marine told them: “There were greater threats to life at the airfield than from Covid.”