Interview

‘We Will Keep Going As Long As We Can’: Former Special Forces Operator Describes Ongoing Afghanistan Evacuation Mission

   DailyWire.com
Image Courtesy of Travis Peterson

On Thursday, Travis Dale Peterson spoke with The Daily Wire’s “Morning Wire” about the awe-inspiring effort by a group of former U.S. Special Forces personnel who are now organizing a massive rescue effort of Afghan allies from Afghanistan.

Peterson is a retired Air Force Master Sergeant and a board member with Ark Salus, “a group of private American citizens and former U.S. Special Operations advisors with unique expertise,” driven by a “moral obligation to assist and protect the Afghans who assisted and protected” them during the War in Afghanistan.

“Myself and two others developed it about three weeks ago prior to the fall of Kabul,” Peterson said, explaining the origins of the Ark Salus organization.

“Our goal was to evacuate the families of the commandos,” Peterson continued, “so the commandos could stay and fight and stand for Kabul.” Unfortunately, Kabul fell to the Taliban “a lot quicker than anticipated,” so the mission of the organization changed from getting the families of the commandos to safety to getting both the commandos and their families to safety.

Peterson explained that he has “been with these guys for over a decade,” on counter-drug and counter-terrorism missions. The initial intent behind this mission was to save the families of these commandos so they did “not have to worry about their families while they fought.”

Their biggest concern, Peterson said, was “get my families to another country and we are going to fight and fight and fight.”

“They’re the most dedicated people I’ve ever seen,” Peterson noted. However, despite “commandos holding cities that would go in and take out the Taliban,” a lack of support from the “lower echelon of troops” meant that Afghan special forces were fighting for days without backup.

Peterson then explained the experience he and his colleague Jariko Denman experienced when they arrived in Afghanistan during the final weeks of the U.S. withdrawal. Peterson described the “absolute culture shock” they faced, witnessing “absolute destruction” of special mission facilities and aircraft, driven by a “mob mentality” of unstructured Taliban fighters, some of whom are as young as 13-years-old.

“Unfortunately, everything was destroyed,” Peterson said. “It was absolute destruction. I’ve done so many things in my life and been so many different places. It just took me, it took my breath away, to be honest with you.”

Damaged Equipment in Afghanistan

Image Courtesy of Travis Peterson

When asked why the Biden administration is seemingly intent on “trusting” the Taliban, despite the havoc they’ve wreaked in the region, Peterson’s response was clear.

“For our administration to even think of trusting the Taliban is absolutely ridiculous,” Peterson said. 

According to Peterson, his team has been able to rescue around 200 to 300 people, all people who are exposed and on the Taliban’s enemy list.

“All of my commandos, all my commandos and all my pilots and flight engineers. That’s what I’m doing this for, was for those guys specifically, and then it just kind of turned into a massive evacuation of anybody that we could grab,” Peterson said.

Asked whether an end is in sight for this mission, Peterson said that they “will keep going as long as we can for as many as we can.”

“There’s still 500 American citizens in Kabul right now. American citizens that cannot get out and our government left them behind. Now, multiply that with all of the Afghans that helped us for the last 20 years that fought side-by-side with me,” Peterson explained. “Saved my life numerous times, countless times, and I owe them this and I’m talking to them daily, hourly, by the minute, from their command structure, all the way down to their lowest guy, trying to come for them.”

“They know that death is coming for them,” Peterson added. “They know it’s the very next day, or the hour. They know their children, their wives are going to be burned alive. They know what’s happening and it’s disgusting.”

Peterson concluded by noting that, despite rhetoric from the Biden administration that has placed blame for the collapse of the country at the feet of Afghan military forces, resistance efforts are going to continue.

“They’re not going to go down,” Peterson said. “They’re not going to give up. They would rather die than ever choose that life.”

Peterson then explained what can be done to help those who remain behind.

Kabul Airport

Image Courtesy of Travis Peterson

“There’s so many things that can be done, if this administration would just get off their ass and do something about it,” Peterson explained. “It’s this simple, we need a couple borders opened up with safe passage. They give them safe passage into these borders. I can get them in, get them out to another country that has already accepted asylum procedures for these guys.”

“We’ve coordinated with Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Czech Republic, numerous countries that will take these people in,” Peterson added. “All we need to do is get them out of Afghanistan. It’s that freaking simple.”

“What I tell all of my guys, all the commandos is that we’re with them. The world is with them,” Peterson said. “Everybody’s watching, and it’s just going to take time.”

“Our window of opportunity closed last night, when that C-17 left,” Peterson said while noting the end of the U.S. withdrawal, adding that the focus is now going to be “a whole lot more mission planning” with more complicated stakes.

When asked whether Peterson and the other Special Forces soldiers working to evacuate Americans and their allies had permission from the active duty military, his response epitomized Ark Salus’ mission.

“Us in this community are known for our resources, resourcefulness of getting things done. And that, that includes not asking for permission.”

Travis Peterson spoke with Daily Wire’s Editor in Chief John Bickley on the latest episode of the Morning Wire.

Learn more about Ark Salus, and donate towards their mission, on their website, arksalus.org.

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