Afghanistan veteran from central Ohio speaks out on U.S. withdrawal

Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – As the situation unfolds in Afghanistan, a local veteran who served there is speaking out.

Captain Preston Steele served in the country in 2011. He said he feels for a lot of the people affected by the situation, the families who lost loved ones during the fighting, and many of the people he met while serving in the country.

“It’s crazy,” he said Monday. “It’s crazy where we’re at because it’s not really what we fought for. If there’s promises made, we should keep them.”

Watching what is happening in Afghanistan as the Taliban take back control of the country, Steele said he’s been getting messaged from some of the people there trying to get out.

“They’re pleading for help,” he said. “That’s the sad part, and you feel helpless because you know they served and they feel left behind.”

Steele served in the Khost province from 2010 to 2011. In his time there, he worked closely with interpreters. He said he got to know them, along with Afghan nationals he served alongside.

“The transition just has not been good,” he said. “I think that to that point, it’s not about losing Afghanistan at all. It’s about keeping the promises to our allies, right? That’s the headache. I feel for the families of the fallen.”

Dr. Justin Baker, clinical director of the Ohio State University’s Suicide and Trauma Reduction Initiative for Veterans (STRIVE) Team, said what’s going on can be tough for those who served, but that accomplishments should not be forgotten.

“Whether it was a six-month deployment or a nine-month deployment or multiple deployments, you made an impact in a positive way and that those small victories can’t be taken from us,” Baker said.

While Steele doesn’t like how the withdrawal is going, he does like to think he did positively impact lives while there.

“I don’t think anybody believes we should remain in Afghanistan forever,” he said. “We spent lots of money and lives. I think it’s just more, the way we left should have been, we should have gotten a little more organized than hastily.”

Dr. Glen Duerr, an associate professor of International Studies at Cedarville University, said the Taliban taking power is somewhat predictable because of its history of waiting out opponents.

Duerr also said the past few days have been hard to watch for those that were involved in the war.

“I don’t know that all options were exhausted and I think a lot of people are posing that type of question today,” he said.

From a political perspective, Duerr said this all affects the Bush, Obama, Trump, and now Biden presidencies.

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