Veterans Express Frustration Over Afghanistan Takeover

Kaleigha Crawford, Reporter

On Aug. 15, 2021, Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, was taken over by the Taliban. In February of last year the Trump administration signed a peace deal with the Taliban, which called for to the withdrawal of 12,000 U.S. troops Aug. 30. The invasion of Kabul happened just two weeks before the U.S. troops were going to complete their withdrawal after 20 years of war.

The members in the Taliban include their leader,  Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, political deputy, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, deputies Mullah Muhammad Yaqoob and Sirajuddin Haqqani, senior judge, Mullah Abdul Hakeem, and leadership council, Rahbari Shura. Afghan forces in Kabul did not fight and instead fled with U.S. troops and thousands of Afghan citizens. The Afghan soldiers did not have ammunition to fight the Taliban.

The Kabul airport was flooded with citizens trying to leave because they were fearing for their safety. Seventeen thousand seven hundred citizens were evacuated. There are videos showing citizens holding on the outside of an airplane trying to leave the country and women handing their babies off to U.S. soldiers.

On Sept. 11, 2001 the Twin Towers were struck by extremists who were tied to the Taliban. U.S. soldiers went to war to make sure Al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base to attack us from. In this war there were 2,500 servicemen lost. In a CNBC News report, President Joe Biden said, “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.  We spent over a trillion dollars.  We trained and equipped an Afghan military force of some 300,000 strong, incredibly well equipped, and a force larger in size than the militaries of many of our NATO allies.” 

Formal Corporal Edward Crawford served six years in the Army from 2001 to 2007. He was in two combat tours in Iraq from 2003 to 2004 and 2005 to 2006. Crawford said he is upset about the Taliban taking over Afghanistan. “We spent years training the Afghan army to defend itself. We spent billions of dollars to get the Taliban out of Afghanistan and equip the Afghan army. [We] spent countless American lives for nothing, ” he added.

Crawford said he thinks that all the sacrifices that our service members made were for nothing. “It’s not our war to stay over there. We gave the Afghans a deadline when we were leaving, and we left,” he said. “We have to leave equipment behind because we have to make it look like we’re not leaving. They have to sneak out. I think it should have been planned better. I think American civilians should have left before the soldiers did. Instead, we left them there to die.”

Former Corporal Drew Downs served seven years in the Army from 2002 to 2009. He was in two combat tours in Iraq. Downs said he thinks what has happened is horrible. “It was easily unavoidable. Joe Biden, Commander in Chief, messed up the plan to withdraw the troops in Afghanistan,” Downs said. “Twenty years and they [the Taliban] did not control anything and now they have the whole country. It’s aggravating, heartbreaking and frustrating.”

Downs said he feels that all the sacrifices service members made weren’t for nothing. “For 20 years, we saved a lot of lives. My brothers and sisters helped save a lot of lives, otherwise they would have been lost,” Downs said. “These guys didn’t waste their lives.”

As the Taliban continues to exert control, and Afghan citizens struggle against the rules imposed, U.S. veterans will continue to cope with anger and frustration. At this time, there is no clear resolution to the Taliban takeover that many Americans gave years of their lives to prevent.