TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Local reaction to the deadly suicide bomb attack at the Kabul airport is pouring in Thursday.
Retired Colonel DJ Reyes served more than 30 years in the United States Army. He lives in Tampa now, but his last combat deployment was in Afghanistan in 2011.
He was the intelligence campaign planner, and part of a group that was tasked with planning for contingencies, including the eventual withdrawal of US forces out of Afghanistan.
“It’s disheartening and sadness for those who have been injured or killed,” Reyes said. “Disheartening to know that there’s folks who are helpless, targets, they’re sitting out there congested at the various gates trying to get into the airport.”
More than a dozen U.S. service members and at least 60 Afghans were killed in Kabul. It’s the deadliest attack on U.S. service members in Afghanistan since 2013.
U.S. military leaders say they expect the attacks to continue and Reyes agrees.
“As long as we have a viable target of helpless citizens, this is an opportunity for bad guys to conduct these types of operations,” Reyes said.
Before President Joe Biden remarks Thursday, General Kenneth McKenzie vowed to find those responsible.
“We’ve been clear all along that we’re gonna retain the right to operate against ISIS in Afghanistan,” McKenzie said.
Reyes says he’s also keeping an eye on two upcoming dates, next Tuesday’s deadline to withdraw Americans and other evacuees, and the day after Sept. 11.
“I believe, in my own personal opinion, what the Taliban does on those days, will inform us as to their true intentions,” Reyes said. “Up until that time, we have to expect we’re going to continue to receive these types of sporadic attacks against civilians.”