Veterans, especially those who participated in the War on Terror and Vietnam, are both dumbstruck and enraged about the very foreseeable and horribly sad fiasco that is unfolding in Afghanistan.
Their reaction is most understandable as our military performed magnificently, doing everything and anything we asked of it in a superlative manner.
Our troubles began when the Bush administration decided to depart from the Powell Doctrine, a guide written by Vietnam veterans to keep us out of future quagmires.
The self-evident mission in Afghanistan post Sept. 11, 2001, was to destroy Osama bin Ladin, his al-Qaida followers, and the Taliban that gave them protection.
Before that job was completed, however, with large numbers of our mortal enemies trapped in the Tora Bora Valley in Afghanistan, the 10th Mountain Division was inextricably redeployed from Afghanistan to Iraq, allowing our 9/11 enemies to escape to sanctuary in western Pakistan, from which the Taliban operated until they outlasted us. This was the grand mistake made in Afghanistan that tops all the others.
In spite of this mistake, our military eventually destroyed bin Ladin and most of his followers and Taliban allies.
However, many soldiers gave life, limb and peace of mind while the conflict with the Taliban continued endlessly and our goals in Afghanistan remained unexplainable to us, the American people.
Former President Donald Trump told the entire world when we were departing, sending a green light to our enemies to accelerate their plans, and he also left the Afghan government out of negotiations. President Joe Biden appeared to disregard the intelligence reports indicating the urgency of the situation and the Taliban position.
Once again, our military performed magnificently, in spite of being assigned an ill-defined mission with unachievable goals.
They are being forced to abandon those who believed in us. Are they angry – yes – and we should be, as well.
Now it is time to care for them and our friends from Afghanistan who fought along side us. We must not fail in this mission.
Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, who represents the 15th Essex District, is a former U.S. Army intelligence officer with a master’s degree in international relations. She currently serves as the House chair of the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, Cybersecurity and the Internet, as well as the special committee to investigate the death of 77 veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers Home.