Ret. two-star general analyzes plan to remove troops from Afghanistan

Local News

Correction: A previous version of this report stated that “almost 20,722” have suffered injuries; the figure given by Biden was 20,722.

LINCOLN COUNTY, S.D. (KELO/AP) —President Joe Biden has announced a plan to remove all U.S. troops in Afghanistan by Sept. 11 of this year, a date which will mark the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks organized from that country. This week Biden said that as of Wednesday, 2,488 American troops and personnel have lost their lives in conflict in Afghanistan and 20,722 have suffered injuries.

“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal and expecting a different result,” Biden said on Wednesday. “I’m now the 4th United States president to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a 5th.”

Lynn Hartsell of Lincoln County is a retired two-star general with the United States Army.

“I look at it from a purely military perspective. And with any military decision you have to look at pros and cons,” Hartsell said. “And in this particular instance, I think the cons far outweigh the pros. If you look at the pros, you’re bringing about twenty-five hundred troops home. That’s obviously good for the troops and for the families, no doubt about that.”

Hartsell, however, says the cons are considerable.

“We lose a forward-operating base in one of the most volatile areas in the world which is occupied by many nations that are not friends of the United States,” Hartsell said. “They are at best potential adversaries and quite frankly enemies of the U.S. So when you lose a forward-operating base over there, you give up intelligence structure, you give up support structure, you give up power protection capability. And if you have something that goes awry over there, then you must re-insert your troops from the U.S. and that makes it that much more difficult.”

Hartsell describes how he sees the risk of setting an end point just based on a date.

“Well, you give a lot more free reign to the adversary,” Hartsell said.

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