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Editorial: The Long War Ends

As America’s longest war comes to a close, veterans reflect on their time in Afghanistan and what the future holds. Meanwhile, some American allies are still seeking a way out. August18, 2021_Kyle Wade,Editor in Chief

American evacuation efforts continue at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. According to the Associated Press, America has evacuated 1,100 and Australia has evacuated 26, both countries plan to increase those numbers today.

Within the country, there is an expedited race by all American allies, mainly interpreters, to make it to the airport in Kabul or to escape the borders without detection of the inbound Taliban regime.

“Jack”, was an interpreter who worked with retired Marine Corporal Jake Jane’s platoon on his deployment to Nowzad in the Helmand Province, 2008; he is currently in Afghanistan trying to find a way out.

For “Jack’s” family and his own safety, UNTD WE STND will conceal his identity until word of his safe arrival stateside has been received.

On Sunday, Jack, his wife and his four sons left their home in Khost, Afghanistan in the cover of night in hopes of reaching Kabul, in hopes of finding what he calls “my Marines”.

According to Jack the situation in Khost was “not good right now (Sunday), it’s very bad. Yesterday, Talibans killed 15 people on the road. Talibans and Afghan’s government didn’t fight each other.”

Google maps journey from Jack’s home in Khost to Kabul

The family did arrive in Kabul on Monday, after a 144 mile trip, only to find the embassy evacuated and would have to divert to the airport.

As of Wednesday, Jack is in the process of his third application for an SIV (Special Immigrant Visa), a last ditch effort to escape a Taliban regime that targets allies of America.

“Those who help with US Marines and US Army, they try to kill that kind of people and their families,” Jack said.

Janes speaks about Jack’s service with his platoon in Nowzad: “Jack was like the John Wick of interpreters. He would be out on patrol tracking Taliban beside us. He’d pick up a cigarette butt and tell us that they (Taliban) went that way.”

Jake Janes, retired US Marine Combat Engineer, served two combat tours. His second was in Nowzad, Afghanistan, 2008 with Third Battalion, Eight Marines

Janes and other Marines have sent emails in support of Jack’s SIV. UNTD WE STND will give updates upon receipt.

For Janes, one of his biggest issues with the withdrawal is the people being left behind.

“My only problem is that there are good people there, like my interpreter, probably got promised some bullshit from the U.S. like ‘hey, you do x,y and z and we’ll get you over here to live this lavish lifestyle in the United States’ , then just leave ‘em high and dry, it bugs me.” Janes said, “he fuckin’ did his part to make sure guys like you and I came the fuck back and now he could be getting his head cut off on whatever stupid Taliban T.V. channel is out there.”

Besides U.S. allies being stranded in hostile territory, Janes also sees positivity in America’s role over the past near two-decades.

“I believe that the constant rotations to Afghanistan and Iraq kept the military honed. At least I noticed it in the Marine Corps, I was getting trained by fuckin’ door-kickers from Fallujah that just breathed this rabbid dog of psychopath, and I think you need that. You can’t just go from CONUS (Continental United States) to fightin’ wars, you need killers training killers, iron sharpens iron.”

Justin Eggen, left Marine Corps active duty after his second combat deployment to Afghanistan, he is now a published author and national award winning poet attending Florida Atlantic University.

Justin Eggen, combat veteran and award winning author shares perspective on Afghanistan The current events in Afghanistan have inspired him to write his latest book of poetry, Ten Years Ago, Ten Years Later over the past two weeks and he says, “it’s very much my answer to what’s going on right now.”

Eggen says the evacuation doesn’t negate the military growth that America has seen over the near two-decades of war.

“It’s a hard thing to analyze and try to make sense of, to think what the fuck this was all for? At the end of the day, it’s a few things, I think, it’s one: we’re perpetuating the military industrial complex because we have to. We have to evolve our weapons, we gotta evolve our training and evolve how we fight battles. For one, if we wouldn’t have went to Iraq, we would have never gotten MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles), we would’ve never got Buffalos, right? If we’d have never gone to Afghanistan we wouldn’t have the blast armor for your nuts, the advanced metal detectors we have or even just the knowledge that we’ve gained fighting guerilla warfare, desert warfare. We gained societal warfare knowledge from this.” Eggen said.

According to Eggen, every small detail of the war in Afghanistan has played a role in advancing America, from the evolution of the sandbag into Hesco barriers to the untaxed deployment money being circulated back into the US economy post deployment.

Janes points out that amidst the negative impacts of the war fought in Afghanistan, he still made undeniable personal gains and insights.

“Am I undoubtedly mentally fucked up? Yes. Did I experience something that 99.9 percent of never will? Yes. Did I make the best friends in the world? Yes. Did I find out who I am as a man and see the fortitude I’m capable of in certain situations? Yes.” Janes said.

“I have a very unique way of looking at it, I think a lot of veterans may feel scorned, like ‘ah the fucked me over, I feel slighted that they fucked us over’ and I feel that,” Eggen said, “but we have to keep advancing. Veterans have to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and become better versions of themselves, our nation depends on it so that events like this one aren’t played out again in our future.”

Some veterans are feeling scorned and questioning the ‘why’ behind our military withdrawal, like retired Marine Corporal, Michael Higuchi who served three combat tours, two to Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

“It kinda pisses me off, we’ve been there for what? Twenty years now? We trained their army, and attempted to get them trained up so that we could extract. Now, I see the Taliban has taken over and I’m thinking what was all the blood, sweat and tears for?” Higuchi said.

Higuchi also points out that on multiple occasions working with the Afghan National Army that they seldom held their post and didn’t take the training seriously from his point of view.

“We had good Afghan soldiers, but the majority that we worked with wouldn’t man their posts, wouldn’t properly run checkpoints and on one occasion we found an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) two-feet outside of their post, like, how does that happen?” Higuchi said.

Michael Higuchi, pre-deployment, Iraq 2007 Higuchi says that everyday he sees or reads about areas that he once patrolled are now under Taliban control. He adds that the worst of it all, to him, is to see all of the assets that were left intentionally for Afghan National Army soldiers, now in Taliban hands.

“It’s like, ‘here we just re-armed you.’ We fought (Taliban) for twenty years, for what? Now, are we going to have to go back in and fight an enemy that’s armed with our equipment? You know we’re going to have to go back in and help them,” Higuchi said.

“You can look at Afghanistan and how we have let 20 years of our youth, generations of men and women to be left questioning ‘what was it all for?’ Well, at the end of the day, there’s several generations that grew up without Taliban rule from the beginning to now, essentially. There are men, women and children who understand life without that (Taliban) oppression and they understand now that it's going to quickly go back to that. They had that glimmer of light, but it was never up to us to solidify their win, it was always up to the people. To make sure that they could keep the country running as a hopeful democratic society with free elections and an understanding that human-beings have rights” said Eggen.

Eggen’s book is set to launch in October and will be free of charge.

The weight of the news from Afghanistan is reaching veterans and impacting every one of them in a unique way. America is writing its final chapter in its longest war novel, it will soon be placed in the history section. We have to be ready to embrace that and move forward.

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