Raw and shocking footage of the U.S. evacuation from Kabul shows much more chaotic scenes than many were led to believe happened during the Afghanistan withdrawal.
Real-life, behind-the-scenes video clips were released last week by Marine Cpl. Mike Markland. The Marine, who was at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, captured the grittiness and desperation of the hurried evacuation of the Afghan capital as the Taliban marched toward power.
Markland stitched together video clips from a GoPro camera attached to his helmet to show exactly how tumultuous and unorganized the evacuation at the Kabul airport was. The firsthand footage reveals “two straight weeks of worsening conditions” on the ground as seen from the viewpoint of the Marine from 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
Markland posted the video on his Instagram, but it has since been deleted. Task & Purpose published the video, as well as Markland’s commentary from social media, which has also been removed.
“I hope this answers questions but also provokes you to ask more,” Markland captioned the since-deleted Instagram video. “To my brothers and sisters who were there I made this for you and your family. When you have the lack of ability to explain all that happened in those two weeks, show them this. Stand tall and wear the last two weeks on your chest.”
“I haven’t found a way to explain it with any words I know,” the Marine admitted.
“Many of us joined because we liked fighting and were good with adversity and conflict,” Markland reportedly wrote. “Two weeks in Kabul at HKIA put all of that to the test. I can’t say enough how proud I am of the Marines I serve with.”
“Odds were stacked against us. Circumstances undeniably out of our control, but we never let it deter our tenacious approach towards our mission at hand. Adversity and challenges happened 24/7,” Markland said.
The Marine noted that “almost all had no predesignated plan.”
“We did our absolute best and remained stoic through the sleepless nights and round-the-clock work with minimal food and water,” he continued. “Staying up for two or more days straight at a time grinding but remaining intensely vigilant.”
The at-times tough-to-watch video shows Afghans in utter despair to leave their country as their fate with the Taliban in control would be crushing at best.
The Afghans are densely packed into small areas with barbed wire fences at the borders of the holding area outside the Kabul airport. Marines shoot crowd munitions to attempt to calm the frantic masses. When crowd munitions aren’t effective, Marines are seen firing off warning shots from their firearms in an attempt to control the large crowds.
Babies are seen being handed to the Marines for safety. Lacking medical equipment, wounded people are taken to get treatment on a ladder. Men and women are seen bursting into tears. In one clip, a man in civilian clothes bashes another person with the stock of his AK-47.
Despite the sheer inhumanity of the bedlam, there are moments of hopeful humanity as Marines give fist bumps to smiling Afghans.
Marines bond in a circle as the song “Halftime” by Nas blares in the background. They pass around the camera, make silly faces, throw a pineapple at each other, and enjoy friendly bicycle races.
In the middle of the 7-minute video, U.S. service members are seen disabling American military equipment and vehicles. The video shows stacks of AK-47s, PK machine guns, M-16s, and other weapons likely abandoned by the Afghan military after the country collapsed.
The end of the video pays tribute to the 13 U.S. service members who died in the suicide bombing in Kabul.
Markland’s video paints a far more shambolic Kabul exit than the sanitized photos and videos provided by the Department of Defense.
U.S. Marine footage from Kabul 08/21