On Sunday, Aug. 22, the Department of Defense posted a tweet that did not go unnoticed by Twitter users, who flagged a gross error.
The tweet included images showing Afghan civilians aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, the tweet’s description stated.
At first glance, everything looks normal. However, some detail-oriented users noticed that the C-17s in the photo do not appear to be American.
One of the observant users enlarged the images of the aircraft to show the words “United Arab Emirates Air Force” on the side. A clear indication that they are not, in fact, U.S. Air Force C-17s.
Other Twitter users also noticed the error and expressed concern and frustration that the DoD would make such a gross mistake.
Buzz Patterson, a conservative candidate in the 2020 election to represent California’s 7th Congressional District, wrote in the Twitter thread, “That’s not a @usairforce C-17, @DeptofDefense Wrong country. Glad to know you guys are in command of the situation.”
Another user commented, “In true liberal fashion, trying to lay claim to someone else’s work. That plane belongs to the United Arab Emirates. Pretty easy to spot, I mean it doesn’t have a U.S. flag, and it clearly states it’s the UAE Air Force… #FactChecked.”
According to Western Journal, there are two possible explanations for the mistake made by the Defense Department.
The first is that those who manage the social networks believed the planes were from the U.S. Air Force. So far, the publication still stands, and it has not been retracted.
The second option is that the Defense Department is fabricating a positive image to distract attention from the chaotic scenario in Afghanistan, the rapid evacuation Americans have to make in the face of the Taliban threat, and how poorly the Biden administration has been perceived by the public, including the media.
Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that there are no Americans stranded in Afghanistan.
Multiple reports have detailed how dangerous the trip to the airport has been for many Americans. While they may not technically be “stranded” by a strict definition of the word, they cannot ensure safe passage back to the United States.
American citizens trapped in Kabul are attempting to make a risky journey to the airport through the dozens of Taliban checkpoints in the city.
The chaotic evacuation of Kabul now also has a looming challenge—the Aug. 31 deadline set by the Taliban.
The city fell to the Taliban on August 15, trapping thousands of American citizens (and Afghan allies) there.
The Biden administration negotiated an agreement with the Taliban to allow the evacuation of Western personnel, civilians, and Afghan allies from the only exit point in the city.
The evacuation has not been smooth by any means. Hundreds of Afghan civilians crowded the airport runway during the first days of the operation, and some who were hanging from the planes’ exterior fell off and died soon after it took off.
Although officials do not know how many American citizens are stranded in Kabul and awaiting evacuation, estimates range from 10,000 to 15,000 American citizens. According to government officials, the U.S. evacuated 17,000 people last week, but not all of them were Americans.
The security situation near the airport has become so severe that the State Department advised its citizens in Kabul not to travel to Hamid Kazhari Airport because of “potential security threats outside the gates of Kabul Airport.”
One of the potential security risks to evacuation is the presence near the airport of the ISIS terrorist group, which puts Americans in a serious dilemma.