Local Veterans give their take on Afghanistan withdrawals

Published: May. 5, 2021 at 11:16 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - They call it the Forever War, but President Biden wants to bring it to an end. Rhian Lowndes asked local veterans about their thoughts on troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

“Today we have service members serving in the same war zone that their parents did. We have service members who weren’t alive on 9/11,” said President Biden in his first address to Congress.

The war in Afghanistan is the longest in US history. Over the weekend, troops began withdrawals, with the goal of all troops being home by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Roger Felix is Sr. Vice Commander of the veterans of foreign wars in caribou and an army veteran who served in Iraq. He says he worries things are moving too fast

“I think were jumping the gun...I know people want wars to end but my initial flashback was when president bush stood on the aircraft carrier and said “mission accomplished” and then thousands of people served afterward and many thousands died.”

Robert Rackham also served in Iraq, and says the US has tried this before under other presidents, and ISIS has moved to fill the power vacuum. He’s concerned that President Biden has not released a tiered plan of removal as other presidents have, and questions whether he’s being genuine.

“When I was in Iraq, I actually got to see good things happen and then ten years later it was all erased by ISIS.”

He says withdrawing troops will impact the US, Afghanistan, and our relationship.

“It will affect everyone who lives there, all the farmers all the villagers all the people who are starting businesses and companies in these small cities, all the people who own businesses on these actual military bases, it will hurt everyone if we don’t do it the right way in a smart coordinated fashion with the Afghanistan government... It will create a lot of those civilians to become more radicalized against us because we were there and then we left them, we brought our ways there and then we said here you go and then we left...seemingly our military went down the street for a pack of cigarettes and never came back. "

But Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said at a press conference that Afghanistan is not being abandoned.

“Even as our forces are drawing down and pulling out of Afghanistan, we are not withdrawing. We are not disengaging. We intend to be very active diplomatically in terms of trying to advance negotiations in a political settlement between the government of Afghanistan, the Taliban, and other key parties. We intend to sustain our assistance to Afghanistan, including development, economic, humanitarian, our support for Afghanistan’s security forces as well.”

According to the US Department of Defense, there are 2,500 US service members in Afghanistan, the lowest number since operations began in 2001.

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