Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the spectacular collapse of the U.S. military engagement there one year ago this month, tens of thousands of Afghans — frequently billed as being interpreters and other U.S.-aligned military heroes — were brought as refugees to military compounds in the U.S., where government officials called them “guests.”
Since then, that narrative has collapsed and raised questions about whether the readiness of the U.S. military is now being harmed in places like Fort Pickett, a Virginia base that houses the Army National Guard Maneuver Training Center and frequently hosts the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for training.
By October 2021, there were “approximately 5,900 Afghan guests on Fort Pickett. Fort Pickett has the capacity to temporarily house up to 10,000 guests,” a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson told The Daily Wire at the time.
A civilian who works on the base, speaking with The Daily Wire on condition of anonymity to protect his job, said the activity displaced army training and that the defense compound had turned into a feces-covered disaster site. “It’s normally a Reserves training compound, and as far as we understand, it’s impacting the schedule so it’s impacting their ability to train,” he said in a previously unreported October interview. “Last year at this time there were a lot of reserve units on the base, this year there aren’t any. There’s no room.”
“It’s putting a load on the soldiers who are supposed to be there doing training, they’re exasperated by the behavior of these people doing things like defecating everywhere, dropping trash whenever they’re done with it,” he said. “The camp where I’m working, there are several barracks-type buildings and a compound fenced in with barbed wire where we store different supplies like weapons and ammunition for the guys who train. All that got moved out,” he said, adding that Afghans were wandering out onto a firing range.
Afghan men crowd the military base’s commissary, a convenience store where they “hang out all day,” he said. “They’re going in there and they use the bathroom and where you sit on the toilet, they crouch on the toilet and defecate and urinate in the toilet. They shut down the toilets because they piled the toilets with feces until it was brimming out over the rim without flushing,” he continued. He said the company hired to pump out portable bathrooms was unable to do so because Afghans would throw trash into them, clogging the lines.
“They just go into the woods so in this military base the woods are now just full of Afghans who are running around the woods defecating. … They have soldiers with radios sitting at the corners just kind of watching,” he said.
At the time, the DHS spokesperson dismissed the allegations, saying the U.S. was “dedicated to treating our Afghan guests with dignity and respect while we care for their needs. … The Task Force has implemented a U.S. military Mayor and Governor system to the village, who also communicate with the evacuees and interagency partners daily. Further, we continue to stress the importance of good hygiene by providing cleaning and disinfecting supplies, hand washing stations, and culturally sensitive signage.”
Refugees are free to leave military bases, though “all parolees will be required to maintain regular contact with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,” the spokesperson said.
A Department of Defense (DoD) spokesperson said, “Fort Pickett met DHS, DOS and DoD’s criteria for a secure location with capacity to house and provide essential support to Afghan personnel with minimal impact to training and military readiness. … Task Force Pickett is proud to host at this location while continuing to make our Afghan guests feel welcome.”
Since then, evidence has mounted supporting the employee’s account. In November, Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) wrote to Fort Pickett officials that he had reason to believe the bases were accommodating Afghans at the expense of American military members. “I recently received concerning reports, photos, and videos from constituents that indicate that our soldiers at Fort Pickett are required to sleep outside in tents because the barracks are occupied by Afghan refugees. These reports indicate that our soldiers are sleeping in temperatures below 40 degrees, have been denied hot meals, and have limited opportunities to shower as they prepare for deployment,” he wrote.
In January, a DoD inspector general report noted that “a significant number of Afghan evacuees did not have any identification,” while medical officials often encountered different spellings of names and birthdates that “did not directly translate to the Gregorian calendar” among the refugees.
There were few consequences for misdemeanors like “physical abuse of Afghan women and children, and other crimes by Afghan evacuees,” because “Pickett military police had limited law enforcement authority over Afghan Evacuees,” it said. “TF Pickett personnel did not carry weapons and were only allowed to respond to de-escalate a situation,” the report said. Not only were refugees not criminally prosecuted for misdemeanors, but the base also did not even attach a record of the infractions to their Department of State profiles, which meant that “families who chose to sponsor Afghan evacuees and their families would not have a full profile detailing incidents allegedly committed during an evacuee’s time at Fort Pickett.”
There were few consequences for felonies, either, because a local magistrate downgraded felony charges including alleged physical abuse and vehicle theft to misdemeanors, sending them back to the base.
In February, the last migrant departed Fort Pickett, with others still housed at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. A Department of State spokesperson told The Daily Wire that as of this week, 90,000 Afghans have been brought to the U.S. in the last year.
This is Part 2 of a series examining the aftermath of the Afghanistan withdrawal one year later. Part 1 reported that the Biden administration intentionally permitted Taliban employees to migrate to the U.S., and that one of the most prominent refugees, billed by The New York Times as the embodiment of a U.S. ally, was among those later charged with sexual assault.