Local veterans react to Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan

Hillsborough County

TAMPA (WFLA) – President Joe Biden says he will withdraw the remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan this fall.

Col. DJ Reyes, a 34-year U.S. veteran, rose to the rank of colonel spending a majority of his time in Afghanistan and the Middle East. 

He says the decision by the president was not unexpected and describes it as complex.

“It is incredibly challenging, that’s an understatement. I can’t imagine the pressure that is on him right now. To make that decision but he has to make a decision. Because if he doesn’t then we end up in perpetuity in another endless war,” Col. Reyes said.

According to the president’s press secretary President Biden consulted with former President Bush and President Obama about this decision.

Army Intelligence Officer Lori Larsen lived in Afghanistan for a year during her deployment. She tells 8 On Your Side stabilizing that region has been an important, but difficult task for the military.

“I think the writing’s been on the wall for a very long time, I think frankly it’s a long time coming,” Larsen said.

This longtime intelligence officer tells us she is proud to have served in Afghanistan, but agrees with the president that a withdrawal at this time is necessary. However, she does point out, one question Americans will no doubt have.

“I think one of the biggest questions, regardless of how you feel about it, the stability of the government of Afghanistan. is the government of Afghanistan stable enough to prevent it from becoming a safe haven for terrorists?” Larsen said.

Biden’s plan is to pull out all American forces by Sept. 11. The decision marks perhaps the most significant foreign policy decision for Biden in the early going of his presidency.

There are roughly 7,000 NATO forces still in Afghanistan in addition to the remaining 2,500 U.S. troops.

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