On Monday, retired U.S. Navy SEAL Jocko Willink filmed a video of what he would tell the American people if he were the president while overseeing the ongoing drawdown and evacuation efforts in Afghanistan. Since Monday the three-and-a-half-minute video has garnered more 1.8 million views on Instagram and has been shared across other social media platforms.
In his message, originally posted to Instagram, Willink said, “If I were president, and I had put our country into the current situation in Afghanistan, I would tell America, our allies, our enemies, and the world, something like this…”
“I wanted to give you an update on the current situation in Afghanistan,” Willink began his hypothetical presidential remarks. “We were set to leave Afghanistan this month and as we began the final drawdown, I made some critical errors. Namely, I underestimated the strength of the Taliban and I overestimated the strength and capability of the friendly Afghan forces. This was my fault and due to my mistake the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan.”
“Unfortunately there are tens of thousands of Americans on the ground there, as well as friends and allies of America on the ground,” Willink continued. “These people, Americans and our allies are all stranded and that is my fault. But they will not be stranded for long.”
Willink served as the commander of a SEAL Team 3 unit deployed in Iraq, including for the Battle of Ramadi. Since retiring from the military, Willink has gone on to author books about leadership and host the eponymous “Jocko Podcast.”
As part of his hypothetical response plan, Willink said U.S. forces would seize control of most major airports in Afghanistan within 48 hours, adding, “Any resistance we meet, from the Taliban or otherwise, when we seize these airports, will be destroyed completely and without mercy.”
Willink then said his plan would be to have U.S. forces conduct “rapid strike rescue missions until we have evacuated all our citizens, allies, and friends.”
In his plan, Willink said U.S. forces would also recover or destroy “all aircraft, vehicles, weapons and sensitive equipment that we left behind.”
Willink’s hypothetical vow to destroy the abandoned vehicles, weapons and equipment comes as Taliban forces have been pictured taking control of large troves of weapons and equipment that the U.S. had donated to the Afghan military, but which were left abandoned when the Afghan government collapsed before the Taliban.
Willink said any person using, guarding or even being located in close proximity to the troves of equipment the U.S. left behind for the Afghan government “will be killed.”
Willink said once all Americans and friendly personnel have been evacuated and all abandoned U.S. military weapons and equipment have been recovered or destroyed “we will depart Afghanistan.”
“But,” Willink added, “we will continue to monitor everything that happens in Afghanistan through our ground and airborne surveillance equipment.”
“Terrorist training camps or activities will be targeted and destroyed. Gross violations of human rights will be stopped through overwhelming force,” Willink said.
Willink’s video came days before 12 U.S. troops were killed and 15 U.S. troops injured in the ISIS suicide bombing attacks at the Hamad Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday.