A Promise Made Should Be a Promise Kept; CNSI Leader Francis Hoang Testifies before Congress on Afghanistan
April 24, 2023
Francis Q. Hoang
My passion for helping our Afghan Allies comes from a deeply personal place. You see, nearly 50 years ago, I was one of those rescued children.
In 1975, my family was evacuated by American forces from Saigon. In a speech to the American people weeks earlier, President Ford stated that America had a “profound moral obligation” to its Vietnamese allies. He and Congress then followed those words with action, putting aside political differences to evacuate and resettle 130,000Vietnamese allies. Because of their political will and courage, I’m alive and free today.
I have been blessed with the opportunities that only America provides and grew up inspired by the sure knowledge that America stood by me and many like me. That led me to serve as an officer in the U.S. Army, in order to repay the debt I felt I owed to America.
While serving as a Captain with a U.S. Army Special Forces Company, I was deployed to Afghanistan. Every day during my deployment, tens of thousands of Afghans who supported our mission, were branded as traitors by the Taliban and targeted for reprisals.
The Americans who served in Afghanistan, and our nation as a whole, made a solemn promise to Afghans to stand by them as they risked themselves and their families on our behalf.
For over 160,000 Afghans, our nation has failed to live up to this promise. A number of Afghan Allies and their families have been able to come to the United States. But over 80% of the Afghans who stood by us at great risk to themselves remain left behind.
After our chaotic withdrawal, thousands of Americans including me began receiving frantic pleas for help from Afghan allies whose lives were at risk because they worked with us. Unwilling to turn our back on these allies, we did what we could to save their lives.
Thousands of us helped guide Afghans on the ground through crowds who desperately were trying to find a way out. Sadly, nine times out of 10, these efforts failed. But every success was a family saved, a promise kept. Volunteer groups, such as Allied Airlift 21, were responsible for getting thousands of people into the airport and to safety.
We often talk about America as a shining city on a hill, a beacon of freedom and opportunity to the world. I, along with 1 million other Vietnamese immigrants, are living proof that America can live up to that ideal, keeping our promises and meeting our moral obligations. And now we must summon the courage to fulfill our commitment to the Afghan Allies still left behind, just as your forebearers in office fulfilled their obligation to me, my family, and other Vietnamese Allies. That includes asking hard questions about the Afghanistan exit, and critically, what remains to be done to fulfill our promises to those whose lives remain in our hands. Future generations will rightly judge each one of us, and collectively our nation, for what we do–or don’t do–in this moment.
We cannot let thousands remain abandoned by our nation. We cannot betray our veteran service members who reopened painful wounds of war to rescue those who our nation left behind. Promises were made and have yet to be kept. You can change that.
That is why I am calling on Congress and the Biden Administration to take action by passing the Afghan Adjustment Act and delivering on the promises made to our Afghan allies.
This post drew from testimony given by Francis Q. Hoang on March 8, 2023, during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing titled “During and After the Fall of Kabul: Examining the Administration’s Emergency Evacuation from Afghanistan.”