God Bless Our Armed Forces Everywhere during Christmas 2021

Two Tour Afghanistan Veteran speaks up-

They were tough deployments. We killed and we died — almost always it seemed like the wrong people were suffering — and passed chunks of our lives in Afghanistan’s extreme climate. I remember the cold, the heat and the anguish of moral and practical confusion.

Even when we were told that we were part of a broader strategy to turn the tide or win the war, it felt nothing like that. We knew even then that we were losing, because no matter what we did, the Taliban kept shadowing us, and now and then managed to kill another of my friends. When my four years were up, I turned in my uniform and returned to civilian life.

When I came back to Afghanistan as a journalist in 2015, after the war had changed yet again and the Afghan military was supposedly leading combat operations, evidence of failure was everywhere.

More than 100,000 American troops at the war’s height had briefly subdued some places, those little shaded areas around outposts on the map. But as the United States pulled out, each remote patch reverted to Taliban control, sometimes within hours.

As the last U.S. military support dwindled this past year, Afghanistan’s government dissolved under a Taliban offensive: district after district, provincial capital after provincial capital, until Kabul itself was the Taliban’s prize, and I was standing next to Marines from the very unit that I had first deployed with in 2008.

They were helming the final American defensive position of the war: Kabul’s international airport, the best hope for thousands of Afghans and foreigners scrambling to escape the Taliban’s victorious grip.