The war in Afghanistan has been going on since 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers in New York City. The war on terrorism has been America’s longest war to date. America’s war on terrorism has not only been in Afghanistan but in Iraq as well. I served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, which was the tail end and the withdrawal of combat troops.
The United States government renamed us from 2nd Brigade Stryker Combat Team to 2nd Brigade Advise and Assist Team, their way of still sending combat troops into a war zone with still being able to say they are pulling combat troops out of Iraq. The talks for peace and full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan are on the table, but peace talks are collapsing more and more every day.
The war on terrorism started with President George W. Bush and has extended through three presidencies to our current president, Donald Trump. President Trump is currently trying to end the war in Afghanistan with talks of peace with the leaders of the Taliban and trying to get Afghanistan to take over their own country to provide its civilians with peace. Many civilians like this idea but their thoughts on it worry me.
According to an article by Wazhma Frogh on nbcnews.com, an Afghan civil society activist based in Kabul said, “many ordinary Afghans were happy to see the current talks with the Taliban end, even if they feel deeply frightened that more violence will be the result.” Their frightened thoughts pertain to the fact that these talks between the Taliban leaders and the U.S. government were kept secret, and during these talks the Taliban kept up their attacks. In three days, there were three attacks on civilians, killing dozens of civilians and a U.S. soldier. Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz became the 3rd U.S. soldier killed in the past two weeks from Taliban attacks. This year, 16 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghan, the most soldiers killed since 2015.
Peace talks with a group that is still killing innocent people has no meaning or holds no weight. There is no point in talking peace with a group that is still planning attacks while they talk about peace. This year alone, more Afghan military personnel have died fighting for their country than all the U.S. service members who have died while fighting the war or terrorism (Afghanistan and Iraq) since its conception in 2001.
Withdrawal from Afghanistan could lead to more attacks and a total collapse of what the American forces have accomplished while being in Afghan. When U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq, something I disagreed with, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) sprung up and started to take over, spreading like a plague as they pleased, securing strategical cities throughout Iraq. The U.S. had to then send back troops to help the Iraqi government recapture what had already been captured from Al-Qaeda. We risked more lives and more soldiers died fighting ISIS.
With the Taliban attacking civilians while in peace talks, could we really trust them? How can we trust them to not start an all-out war?
One main topic from the U.S. in the peace talks was the fact that Afghanistan is used as a safe haven for terrorist organizations. Ambassador Zalmay Khalizad had this to say about the peace talks, “Under the proposed deal, the Taliban in turn would pledge to ensure Afghanistan is not used as a staging ground for terrorist attacks by al Qaeda or other extremists, and would commit to enter into peace talks with a group of Afghans including members of the Kabul government, according to Trump administration officials, foreign diplomats and Taliban representatives.”
I would hate to see a similar outcome with the downsizing of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, like what happened in Iraq. When I was there, from what I could see, the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police Force were not ready to handle their own country. But at what time does the U.S. have to stop their involvement with holding another country’s hand? When can we say enough is enough?
I’m just worried that with the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan we will be back in a shorter amount of time then we think. The Afghan government needs to be able to control its own country with little help from the U.S.