State Department Was ‘In Tears,’ Brought In Therapy Dog During Botched Afghanistan Withdrawal, New Book Says

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Jake Smith Contributor
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State Department staff were under emotional distress and brought a therapy dog into their office to ease the “pain” during the botched 2021 Afghanistan withdrawal, according to reporter Franklin Foer’s new book, “The Last Politician.”

State Department staff felt “shame and anger” during the 2021 military withdrawal from Afghanistan due to their “inability to help” the situation, according to an excerpt from Foer’s book. Thirteen servicemembers died in a suicide bombing during the evacuation efforts, and an after-action report found that it was “unclear” who in the Biden State Department was in charge of coordinating the department’s role in the evacuation. (RELATED: Marines, Soldiers Who Assisted Afghanistan Evacuation To Receive Highest Unit-Level Award)

State Department Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman found staff “in tears” while working on the withdrawal in 2021, according to Foer.

“She found grizzled diplomats in tears. She estimated that a quarter of the State Department’s personnel had served in Afghanistan. They felt a connection with the country, an emotional entanglement,” Foer wrote. “They felt the shame and anger that come with the inability to help. To deal with the trauma, the State Department procured therapy dogs that might ease the staff’s pain.”

While responding to various information requests during the withdrawal, Sherman took a pause from her work and went “to spend 15 minutes cuddling the therapy dogs,” according to Foer’s book.


“The Department’s Bureau of Medical Services provided Chief of Mission personnel involved in the Afghanistan evacuation additional mental health and trauma support,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Indeed, trained therapy dogs visited the Department to give all employees a chance to take a break and assist with relieving stress during the workday.”

Thirteen service members were killed by an ISIS-K suicide bomber outside Abbey Gate at the Kabul airport, the location for evacuating Americans from Afghanistan, during the 2021 withdrawal. Military intelligence believed it had identified the bomber before the attack, and had multiple opportunities to kill him before the bombing – but a failure of leadership prevented that opportunity from being taken.

“I requested engagement authority while my team leader was ready on the M110 semi-automatic sniper system,” Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, a marine who helped evacuate Americans during the withdrawal, said during a congressional hearing in March. “The response: leadership did not have the engagement authority for us. Do not engage.”

The families of the 13 servicemembers who died during the withdrawal have routinely spoken out against the Biden administration for failing to address the operation correctly.

President Joe Biden said in June that he “was right” about the withdrawal after being asked about the operation by a reporter.

“All the evidence – remember what I said about Afghanistan? I said we would get help from the Taliban,” Biden said. “What is happening now? What’s going on? Read your press. I was right. Thanks.”

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