Marines ordered to clean anti-Taliban graffiti, pick up trash before leaving Kabul: ‘A slap in the face’

A U.S. Marine says his troops were ordered to clean up anti-Taliban and anti-ISIS-K graffiti as well as pick up trash before departing the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, ahead of the chaotic and deadly evacuation last month, according to a report.

“My boys had to go … pick up every last piece of … trash for who? The Taliban?” the Marine said, according to  The Washington Post. “It was a slap in the face to us.”

According to the Daily Mail, three examples of graffiti were posted to social media: One with a Marine standing in front of a tiled wall at the airport that read, “F**K ISIS + Taliban” spray-painted in black, along with what appeared to be a penis and testicles outline in purple; another showing a dozen armed troops standing in front of a concrete barrier painted with “F**K ISIS, AFG 2021”; and another picture featuring another holding a cardboard sign reading, “F**k the Taliban.”

The order to pick up trash, according to 1st Lt. Jack Coppola, a Marine spokesman, came from commander concerned objects could interfere with flights. He also confirmed to the Post that the graffiti had been painted over.

But the Daily Mail reported that Marines distributed trash around the airport and its boundaries “to frustrate the Taliban’s takeover”; it’s unclear why they were ordered to paint over the graffiti.

Before departing, however, troops were also given orders to destroy as much military equipment as possible — including armored vehicles and helicopters — to prevent their use by the Taliban.

“Many said they found that experience cathartic, particularly in the wake of the August 26 ISIS-K suicide bomb at one of the airport’s gates, the Abbey Gate, that killed 170 Afghans and 13 US service personnel,” the Daily Mail noted.

But a lot of equipment was not destroyed, along with billions of dollars worth of weapons that were supplied to the Afghan National Army and police forces. Most of those vehicles and gear were abandoned by those forces as Taliban fighters advanced throughout the country, taking over one province at a time.

“Our folks saw a lot of things they were not prepared for,” Air Force Col. Colin McClaskey, deputy commander for the 821st Contingency Response Group at California’s Travis Air Force Base, told the Post.

Several U.S. Marines and Army troops had also seen a number of tragedies involving Afghans who were desperately trying to get out of the country as the Taliban swept into power, the Daily Mail noted.

“We wanted to be there,” one Marine told the Post. “And then we realize that maybe I don’t want to be here, watching these people wade through this s**t river and wave papers, and I have to tell them no.”

Abbey Gate was not far from a Taliban checkpoint, where militants were restricting the flow of people towards the airport, sometimes in deadly fashion.

“You’d know they were killing people when you’d hear a shot, then a pause, then a shot,” the Marine told the Post.

Added Marine Capt. Geoff Ball on Facebook: “There is no greater honor for a Marine to be called to save Americans. To be the last on deck as those who need our help are pulled to safety. To lay down our lives for others. That is what my Marines did. They will always be my heroes.”


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Jon Dougherty


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