OGDEN, Utah — On the 20th anniversary of the devastating Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, all U.S. forces will be out of Afghanistan, President Joe Biden announced Wednesday.
The U.S. will begin withdrawing U.S. troops next month, the president said.
"I’ve concluded that it’s time to end America’s longest war. It’s time for American troops to come home,” President Biden said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the decision to leave Afghanistan a "grave mistake."
Utah Congressman Chris Stewart supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, but now said he agrees it is time to bring the troops home.
“We were able to accomplish remarkable things in Afghanistan. We brought in a democratic government. We brought into most of the nation some peace. We were able to protect minority rights, women's rights, as well as other good,” he said.
All the U.S. and Utah citizens who died there, did not die in vain, Stewart said. Those who died serving our country were there helping to move towards a noble cause and now it is up to the Afghan people to defend the democracy the U.S. helped create, he said.
Late Major Brent Taylor served in Afghanistan and fought against terrorism, his widow Jennie Taylor said. He was killed in 2018 by a member of the Afghan security forces while deployed to Afghanistan. At the time, he served as the mayor of North Ogden.
“The whole point of his role in the army, in Afghanistan, was to train the Afghan army to take over their own security, their own defense,” she said.
The news of bringing the troops home is complicated, Taylor said.
“Of course, we want our troops home and safe, but we also need some safety around the world - and international safety absolutely affects our safety,” she said.
It’s hard not to wonder if everything that was done in Afghanistan all the time and lives lost going to be a waste, reflected Neal Currey, Army veteran with 2nd ranger battalion. Currey decided to join the Army after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
“Is everything going to go back to what it was pre- us going there. Is it going to create more of a breeding ground for terrorism, more than it already is, is it going to bring more terrorism here to our homes,” he said.
Nobody prays for peace more than a soldier’s family, Jennie said, but she just sees the complexity in this decision and the fight against terrorism.
“When we are fighting for freedom, and liberty and justice for all, that doesn’t stop at the American boarder.”
No matter what, Jennie said her husband did not die in vain; he died fighting for what was right and just.
“I am also confident that he was confident he was coming back, but in that same journal entry he wrote I would go, even if I knew I would die,” she said.
Pres. Biden addressed some of the backlash and criticism he has faced from the decision.
“Look, I know there are many that will loudly insist that diplomacy cannot succeed without a robust military presence to stand as leverage. We gave that argument a decade. It’s never proved effective, not when we had 98,000 troops in Afghanistan and not when we’re down to a few thousand. Our diplomacy doesn’t hinge on having boots in harm’s way, U.S. boots on the ground,” he said.