An active duty servicemember who executed special missions in Afghanistan says he thinks the U.S. “failed” the nation’s residents due to a lack of clear military goals.
The servicemember — who has been on five tours of Afghanistan, typically acting in an air support role — shared his insider perspective exclusively with KTLA but asked his identity be protected over fear for retaliation.
He said the majority of the time he was working with special operations forces, but their objective was still unclear.
“Every day, when I was flying or on the ground, one of those questions was, ‘Why are we here? I don’t know what we’re working towards.’”
One of the main targets the U.S. went to the nation with was to find “high-value individuals, people who were at kind of the top of food chain in the Taliban” and “try to figure out where the best place to either capture or kill them would be.”
But the servicemember thinks the biggest successes to come out of the war were advances in U.S. military technology and larger, better trained special operations forces.
But overall, he thinks the people of Afghanistan were failed.
“One of our biggest failures was not setting clear objectives before we actually involved ourselves,” he said. “Many of my friends and people who served there were just really disgusted with how the entire war was managed.”
The only constant under four U.S. presidents, he said, was the inconsistent directives. One would hold back on airstrikes, fearing civilian casualties, while another would push for more strikes.
“The most frustrating thing I found in my time there was watching entire villages being slaughtered, or people doing things, beheading prisoners, and being told we could not intervene,” he said.
He’s not sure, but he says he hopes the 20 years the U.S. military spent in the country has helped.
“I have a vested interest in seeing Afghanistan succeed. I spent a lot of time there, and I’d hate to look back on it and be like, ‘That was all a waste.’
But did the U.S. and President Joe Biden make the right decision in pulling troops out this month?
“Part of me says yes, because of the high cost,” he said. “Most people don’t understand what happens when we agree to go do something like this and what it costs.”