As we try to look past the abysmal reporting on the evacuation from Afghanistan, one of the things that strikes me is the inability or unwillingness of reporters to visualize what is required to make things happen in the real world.
An evacuation takes coordination among an enormous number of entities – getting the right people in the right place at the right time, along with the airplanes and their fuel, which involves other airports, air controllers, logistics people keeping track of where the planes are, and the military personnel helping out – MPs are in almost every photo of those planes full of people, for example. And then there are the State Department people who are checking identities and preparing paperwork to get refugees into the US. I suspect that people from State are also helping to coordinate moving people to the airport from various locations.
Flying into and out of Kabul is a job for pilots with experience there. So they are a valuable resource and should not be used for other jobs. They ferry people out of Kabul to intermediate stops, like Doha, and the Civil Reserve Air Fleet has now been mobilized to move those people onward. That requires timing so that the facilities for people at those intermediate points are not overworked. State Department and military personnel will be working at those points too.
I have more granular questions about those photos of refugees on giant military cargo planes. Does everyone have some equivalent of a seat belt, a way to be tied down if the plane encounters turbulence? Or are the pilots carefully flying around turbulence? And what about toilets? I do love those photos, though. (The picture I found to illustrate this post has a partial answer.)
Another place where reporter ignorance of what real, material operations require is in the breathless takes that Now The Taliban Has All The Minerals. And China will mine them. It is true that Afghanistan has significant mineral deposits. China has been looking at them for years. They even signed an agreement with Afghanistan in 2007.
Mining operations are expensive. They use heavy equipment that must be brought in on good roads. Those roads are also necessary for transporting product. An investor must be confident that the mine will not be nationalized by the government, nor shut down by civil war. And all this is more difficult in mountainous terrain in a landlocked country. So China is not trucking out tons of copper from Afghanistan and is not likely to be any time soon.
The first inclination of too many reporters seems to be to find someone to backbite someone else. It should be to understand the situation, which may include actions in physical space. Only against that can the backbiting be evaluated.
Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner