Tampa veteran reacts to chaos in Afghanistan during Taliban takeover

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Chaos and panic across Afghanistan continue Sunday night as civilians flee Kabul. U.S. troops spent 20 years attempting to secure the country, hoping to never see this type of takeover again by the Taliban.

“We’re confused and a bit bewildered as to how operationally this all unfolded and so quickly, especially since we know there were all kinds of plans to deal with this,” said DJ Reyes.

Reyes is a retired U.S. Army Colonel, who served over 33 years on active duty. His last combat was in Afghanistan back in 2011 and 2012.

He told 8 On Your Side that troops did the necessary work over the last two decades.

“The losses that we incurred were not in vain. The military that deployed had a mission. We had a mission that was given to us and I’ll tell you we did it well,” he said.

To see what’s going on now, Reyes said is devastating, especially for the civilians who are forced to stay under Taliban rule.

“Because we all know that under that type of environment, especially with the Taliban, life is hard. Life is going to get harder, especially for the women and children,” he said.

Howard Altman, the senior editor of Military Times, said he’s also spoken with many of the people trying to survive in the midst of the chaos.

“I’ve had several people tell me, ‘They’re going to kill me. They’re going to take my life. They’re going to shoot me in front of my family,'” Altman said.

He told 8 On Your Side it’s shocking to see how quickly all of this unfolded, as the U.S. pulled troops from Afghanistan.

“For days, for weeks for months, the Pentagon insisted that the Afghan forces could withstand the Taliban. That is obviously not the case,” he said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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