TAMPA, Fla. — Watching the Taliban take over Afghanistan again has been triggering for many Americans, especially those who served during the Afghanistan war, like retired Col. DJ Reyes.
“There’s a part of me that’s a little bit confused and even a little bewilderment as to what’s going on,” said Reyes.
Reyes served for more than 33 years. His last deployment was Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2011-12.
“It was clear to me and to many others that we had several tasks before us,” he said.
Those tasks were: Avenging those who were killed during 9/11, capturing Osama Bin Laden, and establishing a secure environment in Afghanistan to hinder or prevent the growth of any terrorist group. Reyes said, confidently, they achieved their goals.
“We positively impacted the lives of many Afghans. We should be proud of that,” he said. “Since that time we haven’t had any terrorist attacks on our homeland.”
He’s concerned about the troops who are still in Afghanistan, the 6,000 troops who are heading there, and the Afghan people who are now in danger.
“Many of us know what’s coming next with the overtaking of the government by the Taliban,” Reyes said. “We understand the harshness that now will be applied to the women and children there. I have a lot of concern for them.”
He and many other veterans agreed with President Joe Biden’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan. But, for Reyes, his issues are with the way American troops are leaving and the fact that the President announced his plans to the world. He said that gave the Taliban enough time to plan their attack.
“Never show your hand to the enemy,” he said. “The Taliban never went anywhere. They were there the entire time and they just waited. Once we told them what we were doing and when we were pulling out, it was pretty easy for them to just move in.”
The best thing we can do, now according to Reyes, is to come together as Americans without letting politics divide us.
“We have an obligation to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of them [the Afghan people],” he said.