▶️ Local vets react to Afghanistan troop withdrawal; 9/11 exit date ‘offensive’

By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

On Wednesday, President Biden formally announced he is ending the nation’s longest war and plans to withdraw all remaining American troops from Afghanistan by 9/11.

Bend resident David Nieradka is a retired green beret who served in the U.S. Special Forces for over 20 years.

Including about seven months in Afghanistan.

Nieradka believes it’s dangerous for Biden to pinpoint and announce an exit date from Afghanistan.

“You know, it’s going to create a vacuum with not only the Taliban, but there’s other extremist groups operating in and around Afghanistan,” Nieradka said. “And so if they know when we’re leaving, they’re just going to bide their time until we do leave.”

Nieradka also finds the 9/11 exit date somewhat insulting.

“I mean that’s a pretty important date in our history and now we’re going to put withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan on that same day,” Nieradka said. “I don’t know other vets feel about that, but for me it’s a little offensive.”

Central Oregon Daily News spoke with another local veteran, a former Navy Seal who served in Afghanistan, who wished to remain anonymous.

He sees both sides of the decision.

“Like on the one hand, it’s awesome to get our troops away and back home. There’s reasons for us to stay there, but at the same time if we’re not going to have support it’s bittersweet.”

Over the last nearly two decades, more than 2,300 American troops have been killed in Afghanistan.

The cost of the conflict comes out to $825 billion.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley serves on the foreign relations committee and says it’s a move that’s long overdue.

“We made a mistake occupying the country,” Merkley said. “Once you’re there, it’s really hard to leave. So, again, I really applaud President Biden saying, ‘yes; it really is time to pull out.'”

For Nieradka, the pros don’t necessarily outweigh the cons.

“The only benefit I really see at this point is we’re not going to lose any more lives, we’re not going to have more men and women wounded,” Nieradka said. “Other than that, like I said I think it’s really going to create a vacuum.”

Some Republicans pushed back Wednesday saying a withdrawal of U.S. troops is a win for the Taliban.

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