By, Colonel (R) Mark Robertson, Candidate for Nevada’s Third Congressional District
The current administration is making another big mistake by delaying our departure from Afghanistan. Moving the withdrawal from May 1st to September 11th not only gives terrorists more opportunities and motivation to harm Americans, but it also provides a symbolic victory to terrorists by aligning our withdrawal date with the infamous date of the attacks of 9-11-2001.
I was last deployed to Afghanistan ten years ago. At the time, I did not think it was in Americans’ interest to spend one more borrowed dollar or one more drop of American blood in Afghanistan. I thought there was no chance that our continued presence would lead to democratic reforms and long-term stability. There is little hope for the country until Afghan fathers, sons and husbands decide to stand up to the Taliban and fight for the rights of their mothers, sisters and wives.
I have no doubt that the heroism of American Service Members and the generosity of American tax-payers have made a positive impact in the individual lives of many Afghans. I met Afghan children, boys and girls, who were able to attend school and live in much safer conditions than before our arrival. Women no longer have to wear a burka while in public. Shops are open and opportunities for continued improvements exist.
However, for all the good I saw, I also witnessed evil and corruption. Evil perpetrated by fanatical terrorists who committed unspeakable atrocities in the name of God. Corruption at all levels of Afghan government.
The worst kept secret of the war was that America was funding both sides of the conflict. Our military flew cargo planes stacked with pallets of one-hundred-dollar bills. We used the cash to purchase supplies, hire labor, stimulate their economy and pay for Afghan Security Forces. Much of this money was skimmed off by corrupt government officials. Some of it found its way into the hands of terrorists who used the money to purchase weapons from Iran and other countries.
We went into Afghanistan 20 years ago with the intent of destroying Al Qaida and punishing the Taliban. We accomplished that mission 18 years ago. We have created a space for the people of Afghanistan to stand up and take back their country. The children I met are now in their twenties and thirties – the same age of many of the US Patriots who, in 1776, fought for American independence and freedom. This is their time. They will decide the future of Afghanistan. We need to bring our Soldiers home.
Mark Robertson is a retired member of the United States Army. Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of Defense or the Army.
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