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Afghanistan Veteran, Officer From SD Offers Perspective On Withdrawal


The Taliban is now occupying the capital city of Afghanistan after the U.S removed its troops. 

A South Dakotan who served in Afghanistan is criticizing the U.S. withdrawal. But he’s also proud of his service. 

Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel [Kernel] Ben Jones is the state historian. He served in Afghanistan twice, once as an advisor and later as a member of the group responsible for the transition out of the country. He says the full-scale exit may be counter to U.S interests. 

“I would think that some other path to a lessening of the presence while maintaining something there to support the Afghan National Army and its fight against the Taliban would have been preference in my opinion.” 

President Joe Biden said in a speech that he stands by his decision to pull out of Afghanistan. He said American troops should not die in a war that Afghan forces won’t fight for themselves. 

Jones is disappointed by those remarks. 

“The accusation that the AMA won't fight over the past several years is just wrong. The question is, why did they give up in the last several weeks? I don't know the answer to that.” 

Jones says the U.S. withdrawal leaves many veterans wondering why they were there and what they accomplished. He says the time and efforts weren’t wasted. 

“You know, for 20 years, we showed them, the Afghan people what the possibilities were. And I think that's something that we can be proud of. And we also, the United States and a coalition, prevented an attack like 9/11 from happening again. It's hard to prove the negative, but we can also take some comfort in that.”  

The Taliban has captured all major Afghanistan cities while the U.S scrambles to evacuate American citizens and allies. 

This story comes from a recent interview on SDPB's weekday radio program, "In the Moment." Listen to the full interview below.