Submitted to VT by the Washington Post
The Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe and Alex Horton report: More than 800,000 people served in Afghanistan in the U.S. military, and many of them are reflecting anew on what the war achieved and the meaning of their individual parts in it. […] The planned departure has evoked a range of emotions among veterans of the conflict. Some felt withdrawal was inevitable, the frustrating result of repeated mistakes and missed opportunities. The rebuilding of Afghanistan and the establishment of good governance seem as distant as ever. So does the end of violence.
- “I think for the people who fought on D-Day, it was probably nice for those who survived to go on vacation in France 30 years later and see what they were looking at,” said Loren Crowe, who deployed to Afghanistan twice as an Army infantry officer. “We’re not going to get that, and that’s fine. That doesn’t make it a meaningless experience. But it also doesn’t do very much to justify the cost that we paid.”
- Amber Chase, of El Paso, served three deployments in Afghanistan as a mortuary affairs soldier. Her tasks included receiving the remains of the war dead, and she prepared hundreds of bodies for the last trip home. Chase, who is pursuing a nursing degree, received Biden’s announcement with some bitterness. “It makes every life we lost over there pointless,” Chase said.
- “There are 40 million people in that country,” Crowe said. “They’re going to bear all the costs of this decision.” Crowe said he began to have doubts about U.S. policy as he was serving in Afghanistan. Having less and less sense of what the United States was trying to achieve, he said, he began focusing his tour, to the extent that he could, on protecting the soldiers under his command.
- Ronald Moeller, who served as a civilian intelligence officer in Afghanistan on 12 tours, said he “really doesn’t like” the Biden administration but agrees with the president’s decision to withdraw. But he’s also concerned that U.S. history in Afghanistan will quickly be forgotten and that necessary lessons from how the war was fought will not be learned.