Clay’s Op-Ed: Generation GWOT and the Fall of Afghanistan

(Photo: Off-The-Reservation)

Some of you Afghan Veterans out there are hurting, trying to make sense of what this all means. Including some of my peers, who are not immune to the feel bads coming out of this clusterfuck. So allow me to give you a different perspective, one that will perhaps soothe the pain a bit. I shoot straight, and this isn’t all sunshine and roses. There is going to be some Grim Dark upfront. But it does have a silver lining, hear me out.

Was this a foolish mission to start with? Yes. The only way to decisively win in Afghanistan was full-scale genocide, which we knew from about 2003 forward. We don’t have the stomach for that, and that is probably a good thing.

Did we lose? Yeah, goddamn right we lost. Let’s just get that out of the way now, like ripping off a band-aid. Do not get out the “ We were winning when I left” hats and slap a Ghan flag on them. Face the facts, and then act. If the goal 20 years ago was to remove the Taliban, and now the Taliban is back 100% in control without even requiring a name change, then the objective was not met.

Is it your fault? No. The failure here, while stunning, rests on the political class and the Generals. So like I said, the political class. Who, exactly, do you think lost this war? You, out slogging the mountains, and mowing down Taliban fighters with a machine gun, and surviving on fish sticks and MRE crackers at the firebase, and winning EVERY tactical level engagement for 20 years? Or the spineless General who didn’t hear a gunshot despite 9 tours, who was the architect of the grand strategy, and spent his time quite literally getting his dick sucked by his biographer in his office at Bagram instead of trying to win?

***Buy Clay’s New Book — “Prarie Fire: Surviving Civil War 2″***

We can safely say at this point that the real goal in Afghanistan was a transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to the MIC ( Military Industrial Complex) and the politicians they bought with the profits. $88 billion dollars ( for the ANA alone) is a staggering figure. For that much money, you could have paid half of Afghanistan to kill the other half. You could have paid China or India or even Pakistan to do it for you. That money was wasted, and we all knew that well over a decade ago.

Afghanistan should never have been anything except a punitive expedition. We should have left in 2004, 2006, 2007, or ten minutes after Osama Bin Laden died. Any one of those would have been a leave with honor type situation. Instead, we opted to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and look like incompetent boobs to the entire planet. I should say, our Generals and Politicians opted for that. Almost like that was the goal………

The idea of spending 2.2 trillion dollars to “export our way of life” to cavemen is retarded, and anyone with an ounce of sense knows that. I often said that giving the Ghans a Jeffersonian Democracy was a fool’s errand since we could barely keep one functioning ourselves. Post Nov. 4th, 2020, we know that “barely functioning” wasn’t true either. The idea of the U.S. Government fighting corruption is laughable in our own country. So no shit we laundered 2.2 trillion into bribes and fake projects, what did you think was going to happen?

How many Company Grade Officers were relieved of command or run up on charges over 20 years? A lot. Hundreds, if not thousands. How many Generals faced the same fate, or resigned in disgrace over their incompetence? None. Stan McCrystal resigned for saying not nice things about Obumer to a Rolling Stone reporter, but that doesn’t count. In fact, perhaps it is telling that General JSOC himself was played in such a manner. If ole Stanley is too much of a fucking idiot not to effectively give his enemy kryptonite and ask him nice not to use it, what does that say about the rest of the Officer Caste? For that matter, how many children did the CEO of Ratheyon or Boeing or Lockheed Martin lose to the meat grinder?

SEE ALSO: Oh, the Irony: Taliban Sports American M4s While Confiscating Firearms from Civilians

Yeah, it hurts. I feel you. We all lost friends. Had our brothers return home mangled and broken. Was it worth it? No. But those are sunk costs, so we might as well look at what we gained from the experience. They made a generation of us very, very fucking dangerous. We, especially the Enlisted class, learned how to make war in a manner not seen for decades. Perhaps ever. And while we would all trade that to have our boys back walking this Earth, the bargain can’t be reversed. Think of the GWOT as history’s biggest training exercise. It was said in antiquity that any training that didn’t kill one out of a thousand was insufficient for training warriors. True. Now it wasn’t a deal that shed our weak. We lost some of our absolute best and brightest, which adds to the pain. But it made even the mediocre of us far better than we would have been. Even if you got fucked up yourself, you learned invaluable lessons firsthand you can teach the youth. You have value in your brain alone that is beyond price. Bill Gates, with all his fortune, couldn’t buy the experience you carry in you every day.

Is it arguable, if a little tinfoil hat, to think that perhaps the globalist factions set up the war in Afghanistan on purpose purely to break a generation of fighting men from the Vanguard of Freedom, ole Team USA herself? It doesn’t seem as fucking crazy to me as it might’ve been 10 months ago. It is at least plausible. But if that was the idea, they failed. Instead, they forged our generation into War Machines the likes of which have never been seen. Did we lose some once again to PTSD and depression? We did. But it doesn’t have to be you. The question is never how hard you can get hit. It’s how hard you can get hit and stand back up. This is a time for standing back up.

Did we learn anything else? Yes. The Taliban, much as we might hate them, just taught us a valuable lesson about will. As did the North Vietnamese and the North Koreans. No odds, no technological advantage, no amount of money, can beat an iron will. As long as you can take enough punishment, there is absolutely nothing that can’t be overcome.

***Buy Clay’s New Book — “Prarie Fire: Surviving Civil War 2″***

We lost this war the minute Code Pink was taken seriously. The minute Bradly Manning and Bo Berghdale weren’t hung. The first time we charged one of our warfighters with murder or using excessive force. The first time we denied an element in contact air support. Our people, 49% of them at least, are weak and stupid. The great sifting has just begun, and it will get worse. That is the price you pay for allowing weakness to take root in your society.

All of us, I promise, will be needed once again. And soon. And not in some Bureaucrat, Blue Blood, Skull and Bones created debacle on the edge of the Empire. I mean needed as in needed like the Spartans at Thermopylae. The weakness on display right now by the Government of the United States will not go unnoticed by the world at large. We can expect now to be poked in the chest because we have shown that we will take it. You can do one of two things right now. You can drown your sorrows in a bottle of Jameson and think about your dead friends. Or you can honor their memory by getting the fuck up, off your ass, and getting your shit together. The best loyalty I can show my boy Mike Duskin today is to “go pick up something heavy and move it over there.” Go mentor some youth. Get back in the gym. Don’t let the sacrifice have been in vain.  

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About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

{ 52 comments… add one }
  • E August 22, 2021, 6:14 pm

    W O W…. Truth anyone???

  • Frank August 21, 2021, 10:14 am

    As others here have said, you nailed it, Clay. I’m not a military veteran, but a former LEO who stands ready to fight alongside all who will resist the marxist and terrorists (Antifa/BLM) in our Homeland. I was admittedly naive when I first went to work for Uncle Sam, but QUICKLY learned our Federal government is absolutely corrupt from the lowest level to the highest. Wanton lust for power and money in our “representatives” (including the political brass) have brought us to this… the lowest point in our nation’s history. NOTHING will change unless true patriots once again occupy all levels of representation.

    As to war… our nation forever doomed itself when it chose targeted/limited action over wholesale destruction. IF… a war is worth fighting, then we should be willing to do whatever it takes to WIN it. If we’re not willing to accept innumerable losses of non-combatants, and complete destruction of villages/towns/cities, then don’t go to war in the first place!

    Those of us who understand what’s fast approaching within our own borders must understand the same truth. If we’re going to stand, we best make sure we have the stomach for some very unpalatable actions.

  • Ed August 21, 2021, 1:06 am

    Great article. I was a Reagan Marine before out due to injury. 1. Great modern interpretation of Gen. Smedley Butler’s “War is a Racket.” Anyone can look it up on the web. The transfer of cash is a golden glove catch! 2. You Afghan vets own how to pass on what happened. Keep the theme of you what won and sacrificed and drill it home that the politicians and generals lost. Semper Fi to your generation.

  • Reticent Rogue August 20, 2021, 4:42 pm

    Agree with most of your observations, Clay, but I think we define “winning” differently. The claim that we ‘lost the war’ in Vietnam and in Afghanistan is predicated on having established (or failing to) a democratic nation in our wake; and that is misspent angst for two reasons: 1) as soldiers, that has never been our job; and 2) that is hardly ever the primary objective at the onset and it’s not the duty of the US anyway. That’s up to the Afghan people. If that has to be accepted as failure, then it is a political one–not a military failure. Politicians fail when they pick the wrong wars for the wrong reasons; the American soldier prevails in all things. Young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have everything to be proud of and that’s a fact.

    They were not defeated in the field; they were hamstrung in rules of engagement; and they were ordered to leave for political reasons.

    And our troops accomplished one of the most important strategic objectives of all and one hardly mentioned, which was to put a knife to the throat of Iran. There are a number of things they had planned that they could not do with an American strike force at their border. Look at a map and be content. Now, we have better options for dealing with the mullahs and you guys gave us the time to develop them.

    Thanks. You have every reason to be proud. The politicians…I think not.

  • Charles Allen August 20, 2021, 4:19 pm

    How proud we are of Vets like you Clay. I was waiting for your response to these idiots in power. I was very impressed with your response. I was not in the military myself but my father was in the Army in world war 2. My son Daniel joined the Army right after 9/11 and he is a lawyer in Las Vegas now so proud of him. He was in the 1st Armored Division.

  • Bob August 20, 2021, 3:37 pm

    Great Article, Thanks! You capture our sentiments.

  • sfvshooter August 20, 2021, 3:12 pm

    I didn’t serve so I wouldn’t dare to act like I know what those who did are going through right now.

    However, I don’t think it was the author’s intent to encourage people to use their anger against the U.S. or their fellow citizens. We have enough division in this country and we don’t need those who served honorably stain their legacies by committing treason against the U.S.

    I believe the author was saying there are external forces (Russia, China, etc) that may feel emboldened to challenge us so we need to be prepared.

    • Frank August 23, 2021, 9:22 am

      As you mentioned, you didn’t take the oath.

      It reads “… support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC.” (emphasis mine)

      The oath doesn’t come with an expiration date, and fulfilling it is NOT treason.

  • Kent August 20, 2021, 3:05 pm

    The ONLY way to defeat a religious fanatical enemy like this is to so brutally defeat him on the battlefield repeatedly time after time that he gouges out his own eyes in anguish believing his god has forsaken him and his jihad. That means NO rules of engagement, only total unrelenting savage and brutal warfare. Yes even napalm. Especially napalm. I have seen napalm used, and it is the most fearsome weapon I have ever been in the presence of. And abject terror in your enemy is a good thing on the battlefield. Especially when you are trying to convince religious fanatics their jihad is not sanctioned by their god. We are not trying to win hearts and minds, we are trying to defeat deep rooted fanatical religious dogma. But we allowed bureaucrats who never wore the uniform when it was their turn to define this battle and we sowed the wind with their incompetence and we can now expect to reap the whirlwind. Damn this incompetent bureaucratic trash to hell for what they are about to bring down on the American people.

  • Mike H August 20, 2021, 1:38 pm

    Get rid of citizens united if you are worried about corruption then the political class will start to be regulated from reoccurring ( donations) bribes from corporations

  • 'GUNNER' August 20, 2021, 12:42 pm


  • TJ Reeder August 20, 2021, 12:25 pm

    As always the Marine grunt comes thru when Clay speaks and thank god for that, it makes his words understandable fr us older grunts.

    I agree 100% with everything Clay said. And I see the trouble coming for us. I fear at my age I won’t be here to do my part.

    My main worry is that it seems like the great minds at GA have cut back on Clay’s works. I ask them to understand that Clay speaks a language that many of us do and to keep him busy. I read GA Digest mostly to see what CVlay has to say.

    TJ Reeder
    Former US Marine

  • Kenneth Wilkinson August 20, 2021, 12:10 pm

    Outstanding!!!!!! 100% on point.

  • Scott August 20, 2021, 11:56 am

    Well put Sir.

  • Frank August 20, 2021, 11:32 am

    Thanks Clay, for your honesty that you always share! Well done!

  • KC August 20, 2021, 11:26 am

    You’re right Clay, when we ( you and your buds) got Bin Laden, we should have got out of Dodge.

  • David August 20, 2021, 11:07 am

    I don’t think I have ever heard a better explanation of The Whole Afghanistan cluster. Its true every word.

  • Big John August 20, 2021, 10:57 am

    Brother, I could tongue kiss you right now! That’s the most inspiring thing I’ve read in months. Now if we could just get that “woke” -heavy drop- badge collector “General” Mark Milley to stop wearing the long tab on national TV I could actually go outside with my head up again. You always keep it real Clay and you are much appreciated.

  • Punisher 6 August 20, 2021, 10:54 am

    I like the “generation GWOT” term. I had not heard that before, but it makes sense. There is literally an entire generation that has lived with us in the sand box for their entire lives, and yes, for the 10+ million (?) vets that did tours there, that represents a formidable force that should be ignored by the communist left in the US at their peril.
    Some of us are old guys, but we still have a few sharp teeth left.

  • Brad August 20, 2021, 10:50 am

    Thanks Clay for your comments. The best way for our great warriors to aid this country is to get involved in the political side. Veterans in city, county, State and national politics is the only way we can put our country back on track as we use to be. We have to fight for TERM LIMITS and the constitution that has supported this country from its conception. We need people with vision of the real world in Washington, not people that have no concept of the world outside of the swamp. Veterans RUN FOR OFFICE!! stand up and take the fight head on. The alternative may end up as an unthinkable blood shed on our land.

  • Sawzall August 20, 2021, 10:34 am

    WTG CM, on the nose, time to kick the tires and light the fires

  • James Spangler August 20, 2021, 10:30 am

    OUCH, people needed to hear that.

    Now I hope that We the People will throw those thieving politicians out (local elections MATTER at the federal level) and It’s my hope that they are replaced by the men and women who served in this Cluster. We need politicians who say NEVER AGAIN.

  • Skip Roos August 20, 2021, 10:19 am

    Knew it would end this way, equivalent to Vietnam except this was a religious war, not ideology. Was against both invasions, am fairly sure Joe was for…when it’s windy, the horses rump turns to the wind.

    Military friends of mine said both wars < 5 years, none have paid their bets.

    Re-read Smedley Butlers book about war. He was the marine leader during our occupation Haiti.

    I'm waiting for Iraq to become West Iran, surprised that hasn't happened yet. Wasted lives, money, etc.

  • Alej August 20, 2021, 10:19 am

    Great article… and welcome to the club. April 1975 was a long time ago, but total bitterness still remains in the hearts of those who spent a tour or tours in Viet Nam. Mine was with a Marine Corps Combined Unit south of Da Nang, living, working, patrolling, eating, and taking a dump with, Popular Force personnel. I played with their babies (mine was three weeks old when I left for Wespac) , ate modest lunches in hooches, shared C’s with families, learned first names of entire families… and our despicable Congress dropped all of them in the grease in favor of financing Jesse Jackson’s “peace div-uh-dee-und” – AKA expanded welfare programs.
    My naive patriotism took a big hit as I watched television gleefully display the NVA tank smashing through the presidential palace gate in Saigon. With tear-blurred vision.
    Date prisa, TEXIT !

  • John August 20, 2021, 10:06 am

    Good article, spot on. I was in Afghanistan Sept ’04 to Jan ’05 as a police advisor to the MOI ( I’m former USMC SigInt and a career police officer 1979-2001). Dept. of State (DoS) had the ambition of increasing the ANP from 15K officers to 35K. 80% could not read or write. How does one train recruits that can’t read or write? Afghans signed up because it was the only game in town (outside of the ANA) with a paycheck. In ’04 an ANP made $15 per month. You read that right. Anti-corruption and gender equality were a big priority for DoS. You must be whacking me off. Pay a cop $15 monthly and focus on corruption? And gender equality in Afghanistan? Seriously? There were 15 of us that went over originally as police advisors. Most of us had been career police officers, so we had a pretty good idea of what needed to be accomplished with respect to professional development. And almost all of us had previous service with the U.N. mission in Kosovo doing the same thing. Serbs and Albanians were like brain surgeons compared to Afghans. We used to look at each other and say WTF are we doing here? What a waste of resources and taxpayer $$$.

  • GOAT August 20, 2021, 10:05 am

    We Vietnam vets would like to welcome our Afghan brothers to our nation. Now you know how it feels to be sold out, and no the sting does not subside.

    • Tmpsngnr August 20, 2021, 1:01 pm

      Roger that Goat – Afghan and Iraq war brothers, welcome to the ranks of the disaffected. 69 years old and still ready to gear up and go again. Only it will be on our own home turf this time. Mark my words (FBI/DOJ) and ammo up.

  • Big Al 45 August 20, 2021, 9:59 am

    Well said, and once again thank you and all those brave Warriors for your service.
    I said in the beginning it was a fools errand, but here we are now.
    When will our leadership ever learn?
    ESPECIALLY Afghanistan, where with one exception, the Great Powers have ALL failed, and the one that did ‘tame’ that region only did so by Genocide.
    This POTUS isn’t just a joke, he is outright dangerous with his stupidity.

  • Frederick August 20, 2021, 9:47 am

    A little voice is talking into my ear and it is saying that a good number of the “Afghan refugees” that are getting onto the transport airplanes and are being flown to military bases in the US are actually in fact Taliban fighters.
    We are going to have Taliban fighters infiltrated inside of our military bases in the US.

  • Phil Whitehead Commander, Post 140 August 20, 2021, 9:36 am

    Extremely well written. We all can feel your disgust, shock and dismay at what had happened before during and after we entered this ridiculous conflict. The losses were incalculable in human suffering and unnecessary pain to the families of all involved. I believe I can speak for everyone who has read this that if we do not put on our big boy pants and finally stand up to what has gone horribly wrong in this country then we are surely doomed.
    God Bless you Clay, for having the will and courage to speak the truth.

  • Clint W. August 20, 2021, 9:30 am

    A British politician just said about taking in 20,000 Afghan refugees, “We’re full!”. Britain has enough Muslims, whether true believers or just for show. The US is taking in thousands. The ‘iron will’ spoken about in this excellent article, is being sent throughout the world. The quote from Santayana about those who forget their history are bound to repeat it applies in another direction. I am not a Bible Thumper, but the Book of Revelations talks about Armageddon, and many thought it would be like us against the Chinese do to geographical references in it, but now it looks more like the world against the Muslims. The old TV show, ‘Stargate SG-1’ ended its run with the continuing battle against the Ori, a supposed religious sect that demanded you follow or die, including the destruction of entire planets that failed to comply. Perhaps it is prophetic that our continuing battle for personal and US Constitutional freedom will come to include the spread of the Muslim cult along with the continuing battle of the Communist Party in this country, currently known as democrats.

    • Dude August 20, 2021, 11:18 am

      Great. Now the number of shakedown checkpoints in Bonerland (aka USA) will double.
      How many of your “brothers” will join or have already joined BLM, antifa, or MS-13ish outfits?

      Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.

      Just do us both a favor, stay out of my perimeter.

    • El Zorro August 20, 2021, 1:15 pm

      Let’s not forget about BLM & Antifa… Hey! Maybe we’ll luck out and they’ll all kill each other!!

  • Dennis Droege August 20, 2021, 9:14 am

    God bless you, brother.

  • Trey August 20, 2021, 8:51 am

    Phenomenal article. Thanks.

    • IAMBF August 20, 2021, 9:13 am

      I am an older veteran of Desert Storm era…TY for the article…I refuse to submit…and stood my ground all these years from weakness and liberism…count me in brothers…I too will stand shoulder to shoulder with you to defend OUR COUNTRY!!! 101ST ABN. DIV.

  • Kurt Hollyday August 20, 2021, 8:44 am

    Very well said, and great article. Our Military now worries more about what “gender” they are or what a “privileged” white person that was raised by LEGAL IMMIGRANT parents owes them. Funny how quickly all of this bullshit nonsense that started with a illegitimate president 8 months ago snowballed so quickly. Keep on worrying about wearing a mask while alone in your car and keeping up on your vaccines.
    You were already told you were NONESSENTIAL! Don’t you get it yet? Wake up America! At least the masks make it easy to see who the weak minded are.
    Once again, excellent article Clay, and thank you for your service!

  • Ron August 20, 2021, 8:34 am

    Soft Times Lead to Soft Men. Soft Men Lead to Hard Time. Hard Times Lead to the Return of Hard Men.


  • John Rizer August 20, 2021, 8:05 am

    The NRA and all 2nd Amendment supporters need to use this event to their(our) advantage. We have and Administration that wants to take our semi-auto rifles and handguns. Yet they essentially give 80 billion dollars worth of high tech weapons to a sworn enemy that we’v been fighting for 20 years. And leave thousands of Afghani friendlies and Americans behind!,I don’t want to hear another word about gun control!

  • Pacer August 20, 2021, 7:00 am

    BAM! My sentiments exactly. People wringing their hands over losing a worthless pile of rocks that never mattered in the first place. Yet, don’t seem to be bothered with what it cost and who benefited from it all. I’m especially glad that you touched on the Os and how they have long since been compromised. They are nothing more than lap dogs of the ruling class, with promised board seats and high salaries in various MIC companies. The military was one of the last institutions not under control of the left and now I feel like the left owns it. I’m not a right versus left guy, they’re both trash not worth fighting over. That being said, I don’t see as many historical events from the right that involve mass graves, reeducation camps and elimination of private property rights. So yeah, I hate the left more.

  • triggerpull August 20, 2021, 6:58 am

    Not sure it’s iron will or iron belief–these guys have a religious world view that either everyone believes their God their way–or it’s death for everyone (including themselves). How do you fight that? That’s where I see a HUGE difference between Vietnam and Afghanistan. But I agree 100%–this is in’t over, the battle will be rejoined, where being of their choosing.

  • Rose Florida August 20, 2021, 6:47 am

    A good analysis, very good in fact, but ended weak. If we hang people who reveal what is going on, where we are being lied to, then we are stuck with disinformation, the rest of the world knows the truth but not us. And while what happened may embolden others to attack the US, think about what the US, given its past activity, will do. We will encourage a Taliban controlled Afghanistan to be a base for fanatical murders that we will send into Russia, China, Iran and Syria to cause grief. Of course we will not have figured out how to get them to focus so we might lose a tower or two in attacks, or an occasional bombed marathon. A small price to pay for dead Russians, Chinese, Iranians and Arabs that we do not want to share control of the world with.

    • El Zorro August 20, 2021, 3:37 pm

      Whoever you are:

  • Rob August 20, 2021, 6:28 am

    As a veteran; I really appreciated this article. The P.O.S admin that’s occupying our government isn’t qualified to run a lemonade stand.

  • Mark August 20, 2021, 6:16 am

    Nailed it. what’s happening is part of the destabilization of the world to set up the one world government.

  • Stan Karamol August 20, 2021, 5:36 am

    Unfortunately I figured out rather quickly this was going to happen . 3 months into my tour I new Afghanistan was fucked. Wasn’t rocket science. The brand New FNGs even new it. Afghanistan was my 3rd tour 11B . Thanks good article

  • John Sherman August 19, 2021, 3:55 pm

    I have been waiting for your response to this cluster f##k. And a great response it was! Making sense of non sense takes a critical eye and a mindset of looking at the realities of the matter. You excell in those areas and that is why I follow you. Thanks for your commitments.

  • gabriele babini August 19, 2021, 11:54 am

    the most intelligent and lucid analisys , thank you clay for showing us that there are still Men and Patriots out there. God Bless you

  • Dr Motown August 19, 2021, 8:15 am

    Thanks Clay for everything you’ve done and continue to do🙏🏼🇺🇸

  • Bigdog August 19, 2021, 5:19 am

    I cannot begin to know the sacrifice and strength it took to support and defend our country as you and so many true patriots have done. All I know is that whenever you guys are ready, I will stand with you and assist in the task of returning America to it’s rightful owners. I truly love and respect(which is earned , not purchased) all our veterans and non-woke personnel, pray for you daily and look forward pressing toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. You are the real Great Americans.

    • Matt August 20, 2021, 9:43 am

      Ditto. Right there with you.

  • Ronnie Maeker August 19, 2021, 12:42 am

    With a lot of respect (and sarcasm), let us know what you REALLY think now…!

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