Taliban once again seize control


CPL Sam Shepherd

American soldier in Afghanistan. (CPL Sam Shepherd)

Addison Smith, Writer

When the news came that the Taliban had once again seized control on Aug. 14, after President Ashraf Ghani fled the war torn country, the news quickly spread across the world. 

President Biden issued an Aug. 31 deadline to complete the US-lead evacuation, causing US soldiers to begin the journey back home after being stationed in Afghanistan for the past 20 years.

“I do believe we owe them safe passage to our country,” SGT. John P. Toth said. 

Toth is a local veteran who served in Qatar, Iraq when he joined the Army when he was 17.

“I do hope we were able to snag most of them but, I also know our track record with this challenge…It isn’t good,” Toth said. “We did the same thing back in 2011 when the entire U.S. fighting force convoyed out in the middle of the night. This left a lot of our Iraqi allies that had worked with us in a very dangerous position the day after. Many of which did not make it out alive once ISIS came to power.” 

As of Aug. 30, 13 US service members have been killed in one of many Afghanistan attacks. Although many service members had been killed in the previous years serving and risking their lives in combat.

“My job was to take vaccines to all the bases around the area of operation to be disseminated to all the hospitals and forward operating bases for the medics to jab the troops,” Toth said. “I had a lot of flight time on C-130s and C-17s. I pretty much spent my entire time in Iraq alone. My home station where my unit was located in a small country called Qatar.  When I was there, life was pretty awesome.”

Many have taken to President Biden with questions and disagreement on how the situation was handled. 

“The situation was handled how the people with a lot more information about what is happening on the ground thought it needed to be,” Toth said. “Our media and personal speculation is one thing, but the only people with the actual live data where decisions are made is at the Pentagon and White House. Whether they make the right or wrong decision is beyond me.” 

In 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks, the US led an invasion into Afghanistan to oust the insurgents from power. Now, almost 20 years later, the US received news that American soldiers are finally pulling out of Afghanistan. Only under the news that the Taliban have taken back control over Afghanistan. 

However, that all changed when we invaded Afghanistan after learning that the man who orchestrated the attacks, Osama Bin Laden, operated from inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The US successfully overthrew the Taliban, and they lost control in December 2001.

This caused speculation and concern, especially with the Sept. 11 attacks 20th anniversary coming up.

Although, to Toth, the news of withdrawal wasn’t as surprising. 

 “As for the news regarding Afghanistan, I am not surprised by any of this,” he said. “The entire process has been predictable. This isn’t really any different than Iraq, Korea, or Vietnam. We have kind of set a trend on how to end a “war.” Overall, I would say it saddens me. There is an entire population of 38 million that will not know what their future holds.”

What has become more concerning to many following this story, is the danger to the Afghanistan citizens. While the pace of evacuation has picked up, the Afghanistan citizens have been desperate to flee in the last month.

Many tried fleeing, but the airports were blocked by the Taliban, and anyone who tried to escape would face consequences.

The need to evacuate had gotten so severe that when a plane was taking off with over 600 Afghani’s inside, other citizens ran with the plane. 

Scared parents were even passing their babies through crowds, getting over the walls to the US soldiers who could help save them. 

However, in other countries our military has been deployed to haven’t had the same outcomes. 

The Army is an institution that has to exist,” Toth said. “To be part of it can really be special and personally gratifying.  Many of the things we do I don’t completely agree with, but in the end I still love being with my other soldiers and I do it for them. So my opinion has not changed as for serving in the Army.” 

Many question what the evacuation means. Is the war over, are we done being involved in Afghanistan and what will happen now that the Taliban are in control.

“With being in this conflict my entire adult life, I suppose it’s sort of a relief just to be done with it. That is if we are ever really done with it. For all we know ISIS will gather and create a new network or just another group filling a void of power and begin planning the demise of America or a multitude of other things and we will have to be right back. You never know anymore. It’s a crazy world.”