MILITARY MATTERS: National show focuses on the end of the war in Afghanistan and veterans’ reaction

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 2:01 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - With President Joe Biden announcing plans to have all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by the end of August, there’s been a lot of talk about the end of this 20-year war – amongst veterans in the Chattahoochee Valley and on national shows.

“With Afghanistan, there were bad guys there, let’s go get them,” Army combat veteran LTC (Ret) Al Ahuja said.

Retired Lt. Col. Alfonso Ahuja has spent his share of time deployed to war zones in the Middle East, part of his 20 year Army career. From a citizen’s perspective, this vet - who lives in Columbus GA near Fort Benning - says he’s glad the “boots on the ground” component of the War in Afghanistan is ending, two decades later.

“It’s time to turn it back over to the Afghans and let them sort through challenges and for us to focus to move on to the next big thing,” Ahuja said.

WTVM parent company Gray Media’s Chief National Political Analyst Greta Van Susteren dedicated the latest episode of her weekly Sunday news show, “Full Court Press”, to the upcoming end of this war that’s claimed nearly 2500 American lives. She invited me on the program - which is available to 85% of U.S. households - to give my insight on the War in Afghanistan, for which I reported on the very first deployments from the Home of the Infantry.

“Jason Dennis has been covering Fort Benning and the surrounding area for 20 years, I asked him what he’s hearing from the Fort Benning community,” Greta Van Susteren said in the introduction on her show.

As part of the my analysis on “Full Court Press,” I discussed reaction from local veterans, some saying it’s time to leave and we’ve been there long enough, we’ve lost enough lives, and we cannot be the world’s babysitter.

“There’s got to be an exit strategy, it can’t go on forever. There’s a cost to the economy, a cost to families,” Ahuja said. “There was a lot of support behind it coming out of 9-11.”

Army combat veteran Ahuja tells us Afghanistan has had a long history of foreign occupation, but none that have been successful in making major changes. He does say there were a lot of lessons learned there, with decades of American soldiers using weapons in mountains, caves and tunnels plus helicopters in all kinds of weather.

“Continue to improve capabilities, technologies that can work, we’ll see them again. If it was successful against us, people take note, people that don’t like us,” Ahuja added.

He says the U.S. military also took notes in getting ready for the next threat or future war.

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