My former battalion commander when I was a lieutenant, a Vietnam War Veteran, reached out and asked for my thoughts on Afghanistan.
This was my reply:
I’m very conflicted, but I’m glad the war is over. 20 years is too long. A counterinsurgency strategy is a fool’s errand unless you’re willing to go all in and even then it’s a gamble.
Other than that, these are my thoughts:
1. I am completely stunned that we could screw up the withdrawal as bad as we did. There’s no excuse.
2. I hope the American people recognize that all four Administrations from Bush to Biden had a role in our failure in this war.
3. I’m incredibly disappointed in the ANA [Afghanistan National Army] and Afghan leadership and the soldiers we trained to fold and be defeated so quickly.
4. I am concerned for the Afghan people, particularly women under Taliban rule.
5. I am concerned that our void will be filled by China and they will cash in on Afghanistan’s resources and strategic location.
6. I’m amused by the number of “strategic thinkers” voicing their opinion now when they were silent throughout most of our 20 years of war.
7. I am perfectly at peace with my role and participation in the war and what those of us who served in Afghanistan accomplished while we were in country.
What we did mattered, and that’s all we can control.
Fred Johnson is a Jefferson County Public Schools teacher, 29-year Army veteran and volunteer with Restorative Justice Louisville. He is also a co-founder of Shakespeare with Veterans.