Even with additional troops helping with evacuations in Kabul, interpreters and others awaiting Special Immigrant Visas were left behind. Many of them watched helplessly while Kabul fell to the Taliban, and the Afghan government was dissolved.
Long Time Waiting
One of the interpreters interviewed by Military.com, who only wanted to go by Said, told them, "I can't even talk right now. I'm just about to cry, because we lost everything."
He had seen all the support that the United States and NATO poured into the Afghan government. He said, " But, unfortunately, the Taliban can destroy everything in just the blink of an eye.
According to a Defense official, the U.S. will send over 1,000 more troops to Afghanistan on top of the thousands deployed at the end of the week. The soldiers are coming from the 82nd Airborne Division.
The division is based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and will head straight to Afghanistan. These additional forces will bring the total number of troops to around 6,000.
When Said left his home on Sunday, he saw the Taliban patrolling the streets in Fords and Toyotas that came from the Afghan police. Said is still trying to get out of the country and obtain an SIV.
He has been waiting for his visa for the better part of 12 years, blaming the wait on a clerical error. He has all of his recommendation letters and official documents ready to go.
However, if Said is caught with the paperwork by the Taliban, it is likely a death sentence. The additional troops sent over by the U.S. are to help with speeding up the process.
However, at one point, there were an estimated 18,000 people who needed visas to get out of the country. Most worked as interpreters, drivers and did many other jobs for the U.S.
Said is keenly aware that his and his family's safety is on the line. "I think this is the beginning. When they settle up, they will start looking at people who helped [the United States.]."
Being stuck leaves Said feeling betrayed. He has ceremonial coins and doctor and officer recommendations in a stack from his six years as a hospital interpreter.
However, the paperwork meant to grant him security is now putting his life in peril. His family told him, "either grave it or burn it."