When the U.S. first invaded Afghanistan in 2001, no one imagined the conflict would last nearly two decades. But 19 years later, there are still U.S. troops on the ground. Although the U.S. government is currently withdrawing some troops from the war-torn country, the landmark peace agreement signed in late February by the U.S. and the Taliban is now in question. Intel suggests the Taliban has no intention of sticking to the agreement.
This agreement is a step in the right direction for Sam Rogers, but the obstacles are all too familiar. Since doing three tours in Afghanistan as an interrogator and intelligence officer, he’s become a vocal opponent of what he considers an “endless war.” Rogers is now the coalitions director for Concerned Veterans for America in Wisconsin.
“It was hard for me to walk away from soldiers, sailors, marines, coasties, air men, who were in harm’s way cause I am supposed to be that invisible line of defense,” says Rogers about his decision to leave the Army.
He says the 19 years of fighting has led to burn out amongst those serving. “I’ve got friends with 10-plus deployments and they don’t have any rest. There are broken families. We are exhausting this resource of our best people to protect us in a real emergency," Rogers says.
As the war continues into it’s third decade, the question of what Afghanistan would look like once the U.S. has fully withdrawn is on everyone’s mind.
“We are the 800-pound, trillion-dollar gorilla in the room. People talk about how is Afghanistan going to adjust? Nobody knows what normalcy even looks like for them right now because everything that they do is built around us sitting there,” says Rogers.
He advocates for a “reset” or full withdrawal of U.S. troops. Above all else, he wants the public to be more involved in the decisions made about sending U.S. troops overseas so that people can be held accountable.