To “BBC,” four veterans who were in Afghanistan reflect on America’s longest war and the fall of the country they tried to help build while they served there.
In America’s longest war, more than 800,000 US military personnel served in Afghanistan. Of these, more than 2000 were killed and more than 20,000 were injured. In addition to the thousands of soldiers who were deployed, the US spent millions of euros (about 702 billion) fighting in Afghanistan and training local forces. But now the territory has been conquered by the Taliban. Speaking to the BBC, four veterans who served in the country reflect on the war and the current scenario.
Jason Kirel served in the US Army and was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, in 2010. “I feel like I’m watching the end of the movie Titanic. I knew the ship was going to sink, I just didn’t know when or how quickly. The only partially surprising part is that the Taliban didn’t wait until we were [the Americans] completely out of the country to take the capital,” he told BBC.
The military agrees with the position transmitted by Joe Biden this Monday: Afghan forces are not willing to fight. So he says it’s no wonder the Afghan army fell quickly. Jason Kirel also agrees with the US president when he says that staying in Afghanistan for another year or five would not have changed anything: “This would always happen.”
Michelle Dunkley, a member of the US Air Force deployed in 2016, is disappointed with her country’s behavior. “It’s very sad. I feel so bad for all Afghans. Especially the women who will now be put back into the dark ages under the Taliban regime.”
The veteran does not believe the US has made a full assessment of the Afghan army’s capabilities: “Allegedly we trained their soldiers, but apparently we didn’t do a very good job.” Michelle Dunkley also thinks the troop withdrawal should have been done differently.
Mike Jason is a retired colonel who served for 24 years and “an idealist who joined the army because he wanted to do good.” When 9/11 happened he wanted to do something. And when he arrived in Afghanistan it was a lesson in empathy, he tells “BBC.” “We have created an army for a country that did not yet exist, a colleague of mine once said.”
Now, the whole situation is “frustrating” and “crazy” in part because of the speed with which it happened. “It’s faster than our ability to process our experiences over the last 20 years. Was it worth it? Was my role worth it? At the time I thought I did some good, but now I need time to reflect.”, admit it.
The fourth and final report is by Kyle Hanson. He served in the US Army from 2006 to 2012 and is not surprised by what has now happened in Afghanistan: “It was known that this was what would happen when we left. I am not surprised how quickly the Afghan army fell.”
Although he felt that keeping troops on the ground was not an option, the veteran said the withdrawal could have been done differently, rather than being “insensitively dictated by internal US policy”.
Source: with Agencies