On Tuesday (September 28), U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Frank McKenzie, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III, and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Many observers are expecting the trio to make their best attempts to justify the failures of President Joe Biden's chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
As the world watches America's top defense officials respond to an anticipated flurry of questions by the committee, many Americans could likely be asking themselves: Was the war in Afghanistan really worth it? The events that accompanied the "humiliating" and ongoing humanitarian crisis magnify the importance of the question.
American Family News spoke to award-winning journalist James Kitfield, who emphatically states, "Yes, it was worth it."
Kitfield has written on defense, national security, and foreign policy issues for more than three decades – and the distinguished contributing editor and former national security correspondent for the Atlantic Media Company and National Journal was a reporter in Washington at the time of the 9/11 attacks.
In the years following those attacks on America's homeland, he says, "every counterterrorism expert I interviewed expected more 9/11-like terrorist spectaculars in the country – and they had almost no doubt about that."
But over the last 20 years, the country has been safe from such devastation. According to Kitfield, that's a direct result of the U.S. military being sent into action to decimate the leadership of al-Qaeda … and mission that was accomplished, he argues.
"Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants were killed, al-Qaeda was decimated in Iraq when it rose its head after the invasion of Iraq, and ISIS was decimated when it rose its ugly head," he offers as evidence. "[That's why] this country has been safe for the last 20 years – and the sacrifices of [U.S. servicemen and women] have definitely been worth it."
Kitfield predicts the U.S. – regardless who's in the Oval Office – will continue to face the same fight to keep America safe. In other words, he doesn't believe the threat of terrorism will cease to exist. He points out that four administrations have had the opportunity to see that the threat is unyielding.
"Each president since 9/11 has confronted how to keep the homeland safe against terrorists who have it in their DNA to want to strike us in our homeland," he says. "It's still potent and it's still dangerous."
Despite narratives shaping America's views on the success or lack of success of U.S. military men and women in Afghanistan, "[America] should always praise the exemplary warriors who joined the military because they wanted to be something bigger than themselves," says the author and journalist.
"[It was a] patriotic deed for their country, [and] I will always be impressed by the success and professionalism of America's all-volunteer force. The [U.S.] military is still the most respected institution in the country."
James Kitfield is author of "In the Company of Heroes: The Inspiring Stories of Medal of Honor Recipients from America's Longest Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq" (August 2021).