Local Afghanistan vet supports troop withdrawal, acknowledges service members’ sacrifice
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Veterans are responding to the country’s fall out in Afghanistan after American troops fully pulled out of the country after 20 years.
“This is a 20-year in-the-making disaster. And it spans across every administration since then, including the Biden administration,” said Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis who retired from United States Army after 21 years. He was deployed into combat zones four times in his career, beginning with Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and then to Iraq in 2009 and Afghanistan twice (2005, 2011).
The war in Afghanistan spanned over four different presidential administrations. Many veterans say they agree with the decision to fully pull troops of out Afghanistan.
“15 years ago, I could have told you that the Afghan army was not sustainable,” said Retired Master Sergeant Geoffrey Gleitz, Kentucky Army National Guard.
MSG Gleitz served on active duty and with the National Guard to include two mobilizations and deployments.
“The end came under his (Biden’s) watch, but honestly, we should have never got into the nation-building aspect of it,” said Gleitz.
As a retired twenty-year veteran of the Kentucky Army National Guard, Gleitz served in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2006.
“I was very heavily involved with the Afghan army during my tour over there,” he said.
Gleitz believes troops should have never even been there for that long.
“Post 9/11, we should have gone and we should have killed as many al Qaeda members as possible. We should have punished the Taliban. We should have probably pushed into Pakistan a little bit, made some real good friends with the Northern Alliance who assisted us and then backed out and got out. And got out of this whole idea of nation-building,” expressed Gleitz.
Recalling his time overseas, Gleitz explains how he spent time training and mentoring Afghan forces which was an aspect he called somewhat controversial.
“At the time we were involved with actually paying the Afghan army we were actually involved with purchasing a lot of their supplies.”
Meanwhile, several veterans said the war in Afghanistan was unsustainable from day one.
“At what point do you rip the band-aid off? We’ve known for a long time that there was no sustainability, especially for the Afghan defense forces without U.S. forces being on the ground. We know that the Taliban never truly feared the Afghan forces,” said Gleitz.
“The options were to withdraw or to escalate,” said Gil Barndollar, a former infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps, deploying to Afghanistan twice, to Guantanamo Bay, and to the Persian Gulf between 2009 and 2016.
However, regardless of anyone’s opinion on the end of this war, Gleitz says the countless hours, days and years of service meant something.
“Whatever it is, every veteran that served in Afghanistan should be proud of their service. And we should never forget the sacrifices that we gave over there,” expressed Gleitz.
During the war, 2,448 American service members and 3,846 U.S. contractors were killed.
Meanwhile, President Biden has ordered 5,000 troops back to Afghanistan following the collapse of the country.
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