Travis Peterson on America's Afghan Allies

America has wrongly abandoned thousands of Afghan allies who had been promised Special Immigrant Visas. Now, private citizens, veterans, and government personnel are trying to get them out.


Travis Peterson, an Air Force veteran who spent 21 years on active duty and four years as a military contractor, knew that America's withdrawal from Afghanistan would leave behind thousands of Afghans who had helped both U.S. and NATO coalition forces. These Afghan contractors and soldiers, he says, "fought to the death for us."

So Peterson teamed up with private citizens, retired veterans, and U.S. government personnel to create the Moral Compass Federation, a group that works to get America's allies out of Afghanistan before the Taliban finds them. In January, he spoke with Reason's Noor Greene about his efforts.

Q: Afghan allies ran missions with U.S. government personnel all along, so why was it a private effort to help them escape the Taliban?

A: That's a question that everybody's had from the very beginning. It's a question that I still have. I don't understand why it happened the way it did. Even if you go back into March [2021] and say, "Hey, we're going to shut down operations," there still was no clear picture of what we were doing. And that disengagement from the top all the way down remains to this day.

Q: Some people wonder why the Afghan forces, trained by the U.S., barely put up a fight against the Taliban. What would you say to them?

A: You have your conventional side of the military, and you have your special operations side. I don't fault the conventional at all, but they're not trained to do foreign internal defense. They're not trained to culturally work by, through, and with partner nations.

Q: Why do you think the U.S. is obligated to bring Afghan allies back to the States?

A: I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for them. There's a thousand other individuals like me that wouldn't be alive because of their battlefield intelligence.

It's actually something that we put in writing for our Afghan allies years ago: "If you helped the U.S. government, if you helped a coalition, we're going to help you get SIVs [Special Immigrant Visas] to the States."

For years I've been trying to get our allies SIV packages. Everything that you write, it just gets logged, it gets jammed up in the system. I can only name a handful of guys that actually have been able to get to the U.S. off that SIV program before the evacuation happened.

Q: How do we move forward and get Afghans who helped the U.S. out of harm's way?

A: The solution is easy. We've been doing biometrics on our Afghan allies since 2007. They're in every database. They're vetted. All their paperwork is there. I've got documents upon documents saying that these guys are good. If they've got passports, I have their numbers. I have every bit of information that the state needs.

If we could redesignate these guys as being on an SIV or on humanitarian parole, we could have them out today. But they don't qualify for anything. The SIV process with interpreters is different because they work for an entity. My Afghan partners didn't—they were Afghan soldiers directed by U.S. forces.

Q: What do you want Americans to know about your time with Afghan allies?

A: When you're embedded with a partner nation force, you're with them. And I've lost more of my partner nation brothers than I have on my U.S. side. I've buried all of them.

Even though there's a language barrier, that understanding of life goes both ways. They would put their lives in front of mine, and I would do the same for them. And that's going to continue for the rest of my life.

This interview has been condensed and edited for style and clarity. The video version can be seen here.

NEXT: Brickbat: Ain't That a Kick in the Head

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    1. This is the best you can respond to a story of Travis Peterson and other private citizens like him, who are doing thankless, voluntary, Happy Warrior deeds to undo the mess the U.S. Government left?

      Fuck Off, Witch-Burner!

  1. Republicans would have gone and gotten them all by now if they weren't stopped by the Democrats.

    1. Stop drinking.

      1. Am I wrong? Isn't this all Biden's fault for how he handled the pullout? Wouldn't Trump have done it right?

  2. 'Disengagement from the top all the way down remains to this day,' this is typical for the political and 'professional/white collar classes -they do nothing, learn nothing unless it directly impacts their career. Additionally, they only learn in time, and enough to appear knowledgeable on a set of topics as needed. Watch any politician in public when they are discussing a topic that you have a great deal of education, training, and experience in. They, generally, will have the shallowest veneer of comprehension, just enough to promote the appearance that they are aware and knowledgeable. Most of the time will be filled with what they believe are intelligent questions, buzzwords, buzzphrases -anything to garner the power that is necessary to them maintaining their position. This isn't a left or right issue, it's a political issue.

    1. Everything is a left/right issue. There is no such thing as both sides. If it's bad then the left did it, if it's good then the right did it. If you disagree then you're a liar who voted for Biden.

      1. I see that box of wine is going down smooth this morning.

    2. Clueless leaders only reflect clueless voters. And partisan ideology does not count as clued-in.

      1. I am biased, but clueless voters could be fixed with a better education system, a news media dedicated to presenting only the facts, politicians who did not rely on meaningless rhetoric but on solutions. Oh, and since I am dreaming, I want a puppy the size of a house and a golden commode.

        1. I am biased, but clueless voters could be fixed with a better education system, a news media dedicated to presenting only the facts, politicians who did not rely on meaningless rhetoric but on solutions.

          Ah, yes, the progressive idea that "government would be 'better' if we only had better schools, better media, and better politicians". Like it or not, you are fully representative of the clueless American voter.

          The actual solution to America's political problems is to reduce the power of the federal government to the few powers enumerated in the Constitution, abolish all federal taxes except for tariffs and proportional contributions from state budgets, and to split up states until each of the new states represents a politically fairly coherent group of people, or at least makes voting by foot easy enough.

  3. Sucks to be them because the US rarely care for such bipedal tools of self serving violence. Expecting otherwise is laughable. Otherwise, is it such a good idea to bring more Moslems to the US?

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