South Vietnam held on for about two years after most U.S. ground forces left. Afghanistan barely lasted two weeks.
Although the United States largely trained and equipped Afghan security forces, these soldiers were no match for battle-hardened and determined Taliban fighters, who captured all the country’s major cities in a few days. Although the Taliban says it will not reimpose a harsh Islamic fundamentalist regime and it will not promote international terrorism or carry out reprisals, many people in the war-torn country are still afraid.
Observers believe that corruption ruined any chances the Afghan government had of surviving. Its president, Ashraf Ghani, has gone into exile.
The Afghanistan Pullout
It is far too soon to really see what went wrong with the pullout from Afghanistan. However, it is never too soon to engage in some evidence-based speculation.
U.S. President Joe Biden had a front-row seat to America’s withdrawal from Iraq. He was Vice-President at the time. Therefore, Biden might have assumed that the Afghanistan withdrawal would be much the same. Things were very shaky in Iraq for awhile, but now, the country is a relatively stable democracy which has pretty much eliminated the ISIS threat.
But the situation was different in Iraq around 2011. Al Qaeda/ISIS was largely on the run. In contrast, the Taliban was exhausted after 20 years of war, but far from beaten. In fact, when U.S. ground forces left, the Taliban controlled more of the country than at any time since the American invasion following 9/11.
American air and other logistical support bolstered Iraq and South Vietnam before that, so it was a reasonable Afghanistan pullout strategy. But for whatever reason, this time, it did not work out. The absence of contractors, who maintained this equipment, might have had something to do with the outcome. More on that below.
The Soviet Union had a similar experience when its troops left Afghanistan in 1991 after 10 years of fighting. A Soviet-installed puppet government only lasted a few months before a coalition of Muslim fundamentalists, led by the Taliban, took control of the country. We all know how that story ended.
However, things might be different this time. The Taliban suffered so much during the Afghanistan War that it might think twice before it once again harbors international terrorists or mistreats its own people. We shall see.
Contractors in Afghanistan
The United States would not even be in a position to claim this limited victory without the support of private military contractors. At several stages of the war, there were more contractors than regular servicemembers in Afghanistan.
Generally, contractors are much more flexible than regular servicemembers. The all-volunteer U.S. military is spread thin throughout the globe, especially in the post 9/11 era. Furthermore, troops cannot land in Kabul before they get several months of training. So, by the time they arrive, they might not be needed for the mission they trained for, or they might not be needed at all.
In contrast, the DoD, State Department, and other U.S. government agencies can usually make one phone call, and in a few hours, experienced contractors will report for duty. Most private military contractors are former law enforcement officers. So, they are well-suited for the duties they perform. More on that below.
On a related note, and somewhat surprisingly, private military contractors are also much cheaper than regular servicemembers. True, contractors receive much higher pay than regular servicemembers. However, the government’s financial commitment ends when the contract ends. The contracting agency is not responsible for things like injury compensation. Instead, private insurance companies are responsible for these costs, thanks to the Defense Base Act. More on that below, as well.
Specifically, contractors usually serve in important combat support positions. They also provide key logistical services.
As former law enforcement officers, most private military contractors know the values of things like visible deterrence and community relationships. Many servicemembers grumble when they draw guard duty or a similar assignment. But private military contractors embrace duties like escorting convoys, stationing checkpoints, and escorting VIPs.
Logistical services often include maintaining equipment and training government security forces. Today’s weapons of war are quite sophisticated. In many cases, contractors worked for the firms which developed these tools. So, contractors are in a very good position to take care of things like drones and other advanced items. Other contractors are cooks, doctors, or morale officers.
The ultimate goals of any foreign war are to have as much success as possible as quickly as possible, so you can leave as quickly as possible. Training government security forces helps accomplish these goals. So, instead of regular servicemembers propping up a friendly government, it can stand on its own two feet, at least theoretically.
Injury Compensation Available
Defense Base Act insurance companies must not only pay medical bills, as mentioned above. The DBA also replaces lost wages. In many cases, that is more important than medical bill payment. Typically, injured contractors are a family’s primary or only source of income. The amount of lost wage replacement usually depends on the nature and extent of the victim’s disability. Brain injuries, one of the most common contractor injuries, could fall into any of the four categories.
- Permanent Total Disability: Some brain injuries are so severe that victims basically are not able to leave their homes. They certainly are not able to hold jobs or participate in any outside activities. These victims are usually entitled to future lost wages, so in many cases, the damages are substantial.
- Permanent Partial Disability: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a physical brain injury, is often a PPD disability. After they receive proper treatment, these victims can often re-enter society. However, they must permanently avoid certain activities which trigger their PTSD. So, the DBA usually pays some form of lump sum compensation.
- Temporary Partial Disability: Many brain injury victims can work as they attend physical therapy and recover from their injuries, but they must stick to light duty assignments, such as a file clerk. To help fill in the gap, the DBA usually pays two-thirds of the difference between their old and new wages.
- Temporary Total Disability: Most brain injury victims are TTD victims. They cannot work until their symptoms dissipate to the point that they are not legally disabling. In these situations, the DBA usually pays two-thirds of the victim’s average weekly wage for the duration of their temporary disabilities.
The Average Weekly Wage usually includes both regular and irregular cash and non-cash compensation. So, in many cases, the insurance company’s AWW determination is not accurate.
For more information about DBA medical bill payment, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.