President Joe Biden added during his speech to the White House this week that, “The scenes we see in Afghanistan, they are gut-wrenching, especially for our veterans, our diplomats, humanitarian workers, for anyone who time has been spent on the ground working to support the Afghan people.
Yet the voices of the veteran community are not always heard in the mainstream media, which tends to prioritize finger-pointing and political doubt instead of focusing on the impact of such events on the people who serve there. , or the people who have lost loved ones there. The depression and anger that flowed through the veteran community – when the American flag landed from the embassy in Kabul, and when the US failed to secure even a safe route out of the country for its own people, much less the Afghans who have supported US-led efforts there for the past 20 years – were swift and destructive to many in the veteran community, who are often not involved in the media, but turn to each other for support via chatrooms .
A statement issued by former President George Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush read, “Many of you are dealing with war wounds, both visible and invisible. And some of your brothers and sisters in arms made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror. Every day we are humiliated by your commitment and your courage.You took out a brutal enemy and denied Al Qaeda a safe haven in building schools, sending supplies and providing medical care.You keep America safe for further “Terrorist attacks, gave two decades of security and opportunity to millions, and made America proud. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and will always honor your contributions.”
The Cipher Letter reached out to two veteran leaders, Matthew Griffin and Scott Chapman, who wrote a fictional letter titled ‘Writing in the Taliban’ as a way to share their shame about recent events and how they believe – based on their unique on-the-ground experience – the Taliban will communicate this ‘victory’ to their followers.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, do not be afraid of the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself, but not the enemy, you will also suffer a defeat for every victory. If you still know the enemy yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Matthew ‘Griff’ Griffin, Former Doctor Ranger
Matthew “Griff” Griffin is a former Special Operations Army Ranger and a West Point Graduate. He served four combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq with the 2nd Ranger Battalion. Griff left the Army in 2006 and co-founded Combat Flip Flops; produce fashion and lifestyle products in war zones, with profits supporting girls’ education, landmine removal, and veteran charity.
Scott Chapman, Former Doctor Ranger
Scott Chapman served in 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment from 2001-2005. He deployed to Iraq during the 2003 invasion and four times to Afghanistan. After the military, Scott worked as a contractor providing security support to the Intelligence community where he deployed 17 times most at Forward Operating Bases (FOB) providing security support to Intelligence personnel and operations. Scott’s last duty rotation was at the U.S. Embassy Annex in Kabul, where he worked as a mentor for Local Guard Forces.
Author’s note: We have been trying over the past week to find a way to communicate our thoughts to the American people in a way that would intentionally evoke some of the anger, rage, action and understanding we feel. Writing in the voice of a Taliban felt good. If reading our Taliban letter makes you angry, screaming or contemplative – then our goal has been achieved. Our hope is that it inspires you to take action by reaching out to your elected officials. They have repeated the same failed playbook since World War II with your sons, daughters and tax dollars. If you want this to continue, do nothing. If you do not do that, then what. When we all do a little, we do a lot together.
‘Written in Taliban’
OPINION / PERSPECTIVE – The first time I saw you was in the Khyber Pass. You came up with your technology, elite fighters driven by revenge, and the hubris to believe you could refute history.
This was a war you did not have the stomach to fight. But I’m glad you tried.
We bled you in the same way we bled the Soviets in our Holy Land. We bled you in the same way the Vietnamese bled you in their homeland. We did it patiently and intentionally.
Patience. Something westerners never learn.
Our history is millennial. We do not long for an early victory when unbelief destroys our Holy Land. Our victory is celebrated over decades from now. We persevered, then destroyed all standing soldiers who crossed our borders. But why? How? We are patient.
In 30 days we will be stronger, richer and have control over precious natural resources you need for your pathetic life dictated by comfort. We will have women, wealth, land, guns and property from one of the greatest chapters in military history.
If you would like to try again, we welcome the challenge. You will fail no matter how much money you burn in our deserts. For pity, here is free advice that can contribute to your future success; should you ever decide to invade again.
You are recruiting your warriors and supporters from a drug-addicted, distracted, disillusioned population obsessed with comfort and entertainment. A population obsessed with changing their worldly reality. Alcohol, Marijuana, Pills, and Our New Favorite – Tide Pods. Every time your doctors prescribe opiate painkillers, you fill our chests with gold. The thirst of your people for our irresistible heroin has never been more lucrative for our warrior tribes. We will continue your poison as long as you hold out your hands.
If your population was not so rude, undisciplined and self-loathing, then perhaps you could put together an overwhelming party with enough tenacity to overwhelm us. Our fighters were born in war. Grew up in it. It’s a way of life that eludes your “first world” peoples. They live a life of such immense misery and pain that they are ready to fight barefoot in the snow for the chance to become even martyrs. She longs for the chance to die. When they have the blessed opportunity to sacrifice themselves, they sit above Muhammad at the right hand of God. Blessed be in Allah for eternity
What honor do your fighters get? Their empty sacrifice is remembered in the form of a “three-day weekend.” The majority of your population uses this sacred time to get drunk and grow fatter as a way to celebrate their fallen warriors. Unfortunately, we pay homage to her death.
The colored pieces of fabric you pin on her chest are similar to the jewelry worn by our women. What is the use of praise and vanity if you do not have the stomach to endure a fight? We do not offer the burden of health care to our fighters because they often want to die for Allah. Your fighters are fighting for life. Her inability to reconcile the inevitable outcome of our patience leads her to kill herself. Your medicines, counselors and non-profits will never recover the pain and suffering you forced them to. It will never relieve the pain we caused your broken nation. You are your own worst enemy.
We will give your fighters credit. Some are creative, persistent and passionate. They outgun us in every possible way. But again, we’ll just wait them out. Allah is patient. You ride them through our Holy Lands every 3 to 12 months for their fighting rotations. After their journey is complete, they return to the comfort of their warm beds and endless entertainment. If you have left them here, in our Holy Land, with no choice but to win, you may have had a chance at success. The longer you poison our Holy Land with your presence, your “rules of involvement” only strengthen our position. There’s only one rule in war – that is to win.
Your commanders let you fight with your hands tied behind your back. Your rules have also confused our fighters. “We are clearly the enemy; why do they let us go? “Thank you for your sympathy, because it has allowed our fighters to kill more infidels. We began to feel as if your commanders were on our side. We are thankful that your most cruel dogs are never off their leash tastien.
Your showcase Generals make us laugh. You spend millions of dollars flying them around our country, inventing new ways to win while ignoring the guidance of our most capable enemies. Your generals make decisions to minimize the risk to their vulnerable reputation with the ultimate goal of guaranteeing a lucrative retirement – jobs at suppliers that offer you losing power. A self-serving circle built on the backs of your youngest and most naive fighters.
Your retired generals “earn” tens of thousands of dollars by talking to your political, industrial, and financial leaders about “teams, winning, and discipline.” It is a mockery of the war they refused to fight. It is a mockery of the Infidel warriors who died in our lands. We encourage you to move on to their lowly personalities so we can further see that once great nation collapses.
Your statesman and elected officials are spineless, narcissistic, and cowardly as your generals. They desire power over you above all. They come to our country, hide behind blast walls, and listen only to the word of the national leader who put them in power. I believe your soldiers call this a “self-made ice cream”.
They have burned billions of dollars in a wasted effort to bring clean water, electricity, business, education, agriculture and exports to a region that is not in demand. You should have saved yourself the trouble and just give the money directly to us. Do not worry; your diplomatic friends gave us enough of your U.S. tax dollars. If you want to give it another shot with your “soft power”, send it with real experience, no fancy degrees and silver tongues.
In the coming months, we will make the world understand that you failed worse than any fighting force that has ever invaded our countries. Today we celebrate the victory.
As you evacuate your embassy, our fighters will stand in the shadows. Our RPG shooters will be patient. We thank you for the farewell gifts. You will find surface-to-air missiles mounted in the back of Toyota pickup trucks that you purchased for us. We saw what Extortion 17 did to your nation and the morale of your fighting force. Do your citizens even remember that victory? We will repeat and improve our victory while evacuating your citizens and sympathizers in shame. Each of your enemies around the world will know exactly how to break you. You are welcome to fly your empty drones, direct our phones and send your spies. But even they will eventually fail. We will use their failures to show the world that you are not omnipotent. You’re a fake front – an empty shell. You lie, cheat, steal, and are easily defeated because you lack the backbone to fight. This is your history now. We are thankful that Allah gave us the opportunity to show the world how they can defeat the unbelievers.
We look forward to seeing you again across the battlefield.
Praise be to God,
The Cipher Brief is committed to publishing a range of veterans’ views on this issue. Stay tuned for more and read various informed, national security perspectives in The Cipher Brief