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  • Rich Klein


President Joe Biden today told the nation that America's mission in Afghanistan that began two decades ago was "never supposed to be about nation-building." He said the original mission to send U.S. troops was limited to stopping terrorism to protect the homeland after the 9-11 attacks, noting that the original action was to stop Al Queda and direct threats against the United States. Biden said he stands "squarely behind his decision " to withdraw American forces, as the Taliban in one weekend succeeded in its coup and final takeover of the government in Kabul. "This did unfold more quickly than we anticipated," Biden said. "The Afghan military collapsed..sometimes without even trying to fight." He said America spent "over a trillion dollars" to train and equip Afghan military. "We gave them every tool they could need..we paid them salaries. We provided them air support. But we could not provide them with the will to fight for that future. " Biden said that U.S. boots on the ground now or "one year from now" - or years from now - wouldn't make a difference in the outcome. He warned the Taliban, though, that if Americans are harmed in coming days or weeks, the United States will respond "with devastating force." But, he added: "We will end America's longest war after 20 long years of bloodshed."

Charlie Burke, 68, of Wurtsboro is an Air Force and Air National Guard veteran who has been deployed to Saudi Arabia (2000), Southern Iraq (2005), Qatar (2007-2008) and Baghdad, from 2008 to 2009.

Burke told The SullivanTimes this afternoon that Biden made the right move to order troops out of Afghanistan. "We were there longer than Russia," he said. "This can't go on forever."

But Burke did express concern when asked about the release by the Taliban of prisoners inside the country being held for terrorism activity, including those from Al Queda.

"We have to be more vigilant. Our intelligence (apparatus) has to be on top of their game 200 percent," he said. "They (terrorists) are still out there."

Burke also thought there was a lapse in U.S. military security that allowed Afghan civilians to rush the airport in Kabul as evacuations of Americans were underway.

"What would have stopped a terrorist running into the crowd with a bomb strapped to his back?" Burke said of the image of a U.S. military plane (that he said was a C-17) trying to take off - with Afghans climbing and clinging onto the exterior.

"Someone dropped the ball on that. It never should have happened," he said.

Burke added that his daughter has also served in the Air Force at the same time he was deployed - and that his grandson recently was sworn into the Air Force. He is waiting for a date to report.

"That would have been three generations in the war on terror," he said.



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