New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Carrying his rifle down by his side, Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the storied 82nd Airborne Division, became the last U.S. soldier to board the final flight out of Afghanistan a minute before midnight on Monday.

Taken with a night vision device from a side window of the C-17 transport plane, the ghostly green and black image of the general striding toward the aircraft waiting on the tarmac at Kabul's Hamid Karzai Airport was released by the Pentagon hours after the United States ended its 20-year military presence in Afghanistan.

As a moment in history, the image of Donahue's departure could be cast alongside that of a Soviet general, who led an armoured column across the Friendship Bridge to Uzbekistan, when the Red Army made its final exit from Afghanistan in 1989.

Completing a military operation that with the help of allies succeeded in evacuating 123,000 civilians from Afghanistan, the last plane load of U.S. troops left under cover of the night.

Though it is a still image, Donahue appears to be moving briskly, his face expressionless. He is wearing full combat gear, with night vision goggles atop his helmet, and rifle by his side. He had yet to leave Afghanistan behind, and reach safety.

The U.S. and Soviet withdrawals from a country that has become known as a graveyard for empires were conducted in very different ways, but at least they avoided the calamitous defeat suffered by Britain in the First Anglo-Afghan war in 1842.

When Russia's Red Army left, a pro-Moscow communist government was still in power and its army would fight on for three more years, whereas U.S.-backed Afghan government had already capitulated and Kabul had fallen to the Taliban a little over two weeks before the Aug. 31 deadline for U.S. troops to depart. The final U.S. evacuation of Kabul will be judged by how many people were brought out, and how many were left behind.

But Donahue and his comrades will carry harrowing images from their chaotic last days in Kabul; parents passing babies to them across the razor wire, two young Afghans falling from a plane climbing high in the sky, and worst of all, the aftermath of an Islamic State suicide bomb attack outside the airport on Aug. 26 that killed scores of Afghans and 13 of their own.


(With Agency Inputs)

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan