DENVER (CBS4)– Every day brings more emails. More desperate stories from people and families trapped on the wrong side of the airport gates in Kabul, Afghanistan.
“Every day is a pretty terrible Schindler list. We decide every day who has the highest chance of success, ”said Joe Saboe on his Central Park front porch.
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Saboe is a veteran of Iraq, a former US Army captain who served as an infantry officer and platoon leader of a rifle company in Mosul. When the US began its final withdrawal from Afghanistan, his brother in Phoenix was the first to seek help. He had to help a friend get out of Afghanistan.
Saboe knows the people. Enough to give a try, where he soon saw the US government and military falling behind. People weren’t getting any good information – or anything to help them get to an airport gate. So they created an email address so people can ask for help. Inquiries and requests started and didn’t stop. Joe took two weeks off and figured out what it would take to put a team together.
“I need interpreters, I need people who work in social services, I need all of my military comrades and we will all form a cross-functional team together.”
He divided the groups because some who have to get out don’t know what they need.
“You go to our combat captains who will get you out, or you go to our advocacy team who will try to work on your paperwork.”
The Military Times called to write an article and asked what he would call her. Saboe replied “Team America” thinking of the team he had put together.
Just the need to see is worrying.
“We could have left without letting this happen. We could have withdrawn without letting it go under. “
He didn’t have much time to ponder the Biden administration’s failure, other than the mistreatment of Afghanistan now and in the past.
“I would put the same charge on every president who preceded him for managing this conflict.”
With connections on the ground in Afghanistan, they were quickly able to lead people. You have connected with over a thousand people in the country through various forms of communication.
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“So we have a pretty good picture of the Taliban’s activities on the ground. We have a pretty good understanding of how the Taliban’s tactics change from day to day with the checkpoints. We were given advice on how to avoid them and how to navigate through them. Also where to go so that you can get on safely. Navigate the city with the information we have. “
They don’t give instructions, they give advice. Afghans are resilient and can and should make their own decisions about where things look positive and where dangerous. On Thursday they withdrew and asked people to return from the airport after realizing a potential threat. Most did, but a few headed for Abbey Gate on the south side of the airport. There one of the powerful explosions exploded – killing and maiming. The people Team America helped were so far behind that none of their injuries were serious. However, there were minor injuries such as concussions.
Over 220 have now arrived at the airport to travel safely and hopefully in freedom.
“Anyone we go through, these girls have a chance to get an education, these people will rise freely and these people will be able to maximize their potential and live here or in other countries. And every day that we forego in relation to our schedule, which we hand over to the Taliban, there are 8,000 more people that we could have brought out by flights. “
But to get through they need to have the documents they need. Some have Visa or Green Cards, some were about to apply.
“Whether or not they have completed their visa process is a factor. For some of them, they’re just a step away. One last interview at the embassy. Which never happened because of the invasion of the Taliban troops in Kabul. I think for some of them they were more steps away. And these cases are getting harder and harder and you are right at the back of the line. “
Getting past the Taliban was an attempt to outsmart them. Another major evacuation occurred to me for Saboe, the British mass evacuation of British and French troops driven out to sea by the Germans near Dunkirk on the French coast from a flotilla that included many private British fishing boats. He and some of the other volunteers talked about a digital Dunkirk.
“We had to be really adaptable and clever every day, trying to outsmart the obstacles and opponents we were facing.”
They were back at work shortly after the bombings, trying to get more people through. There are hundreds of other emails in their email inbox that they want to access. They can be one person or a whole large family. Saboe and many of those involved have had little sleep and are moving on.
“Right now it’s all about life through gates. As if this list is life. “
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You can email Team America at: [email protected]