Scott Mann is a retired lieutenant colonel who spent 23 years in the United States Army, 18 of which were as a Green Beret, the US Army Special Forces. He was a member of seventh Special Forces Group, working in Central and South America.
I spoke with Scott Mann about his experiences in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks, as well as his thoughts on the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan, and how people were left behind. That event felt like a slap in the face to the American people and to the military, yet nobody is talking about it. Our senior leaders, political leaders, and even our generals aren’t acknowledging these issues. If people talk about it, their careers are being ended.
Recruiting and retention for the U.S. military is in the toilet. 73% of veterans feel betrayed by the Afghan departure and the abandonment of our allies (there’s been an 81% spike in the VA hotline since August). All of this indicates we’ve got a serious leadership crisis on our hands.
In this episode, Scott and I discuss:
- How the world shifted for the special operations community and Green Beret community after 9/11
- The mental health challenges, suicides, post-traumatic stress, survivor’s guilt, TBI, and now COVID challenges that veterans have experienced, especially Vietnam veterans
- How some military officers and senior officers are basically politicians who have succumbed to the corrosiveness of power and careerism
- How Al Qaida is reconstituting Afghanistan, and turning it back into a terrorist state
- How the United States has “lost our myth”—we no longer have a unifying, national myth that brings people together; storytelling is what binds us and gives us our sense of self
- How our current narrative is based on factions, tribalism, and divisiveness meant to stir up fear and anger
Scott Mann still has a lot of optimism about this country. He believes our best days are still in front of us. But it starts with us. Nobody else is coming. Leadership will come from the bottom up—from moms and dads, brothers and sisters, leaders, veterans, and business owners in a civil society.
There needs to be accountability, personal ownership, lessons learned, mistakes acknowledged, corrections and adjustments made regarding what happened in Afghanistan.
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