GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — As the United States prepares to withdraw all remaining U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan, a West Michigan veteran says he disagrees with the decision.
“We’ve been trying this for years and years and years,” said P.J. Muir, a 25-year Army veteran who spent most of his service as a Special Forces Green Beret. “The problem that you run into when you try to draw down, out of Afghanistan especially, is… What is the impact on the soldier back home? And then what is the impact on the Afghanis?”
Muir deployed to Afghanistan three times near the end of his career, and while the decades-long conflict is nearly equal to his service, he believes American troops should stay.
Last week, President Biden announced all remaining soldiers, an estimated 2,500-3,500, would leave the country by Sept. 11.
Biden listed time, cost, and lives lost as reasons for the withdrawal. According to a 2019 Defense Department report, more than $1.57 trillion has been spent on the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. More than 2,000 U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan.
Biden went on to say the U.S. accomplished its objective when it killed Taliban leader Osama bin Laden, adding today’s threats spread beyond Afghanistan.
“We are there for a reason. I know the American people don’t understand, after 20 years, what are we even still doing there?” said Muir.
Muir says he wants to see troops come home, but worries too much about the withdrawal’s impact on Afghans and national security.
U.S. forces have helped install a pro-Western government and build critical infrastructure, like schools and hospitals.
A recent U.S. intelligence report said Afghanistan would struggle to hold off the Taliban without support.
Muir says re-entry to civilian life is another concern that he would like to see addressed, explaining soldiers need support.
“I don’t want anybody to be anywhere, but we also understand the value and validity of being there,” said Muir.
Muir thinks a smaller, strategic presence should instead be the U.S. strategy.
“It’s so much more complicated than just bringing our soldiers home and, ‘Yay, we’re happy everybody’s home,’” said Muir. “That’s the smallest piece of this whole puzzle.”