Following the series of deadly attacks on American soil and its citizens on September 11, 2001, U.S. service members brought justice to al-Qaeda for its involvement, according to retired Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser (Ret.), former commanding general of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division and NATO's Regional Command-East in Afghanistan. He tells American Family News that the subsequent death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden dampened the spread of terrorism throughout the South Asian country.
Not only will those who witnessed the tragic events of 9/11 remember them for a lifetime, Schloesser states emphatically that America's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan 20 years later will also be seared into the memories of many – including his. Simply put, he says, it was "too hasty" of a withdrawal. Sadly, 13 service members lost their lives to a suicide bombing attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on August 31, 2021, bringing an end to a war that took the lives of thousands.
Schloesser served in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009. Much of his family, including his father (as an officer), his son (as a special operations officer), and his daughter (as an Army civilian), also served in the country. Because of this, he argues he can "talk pretty authoritatively" about Afghanistan.
And with that authority, he predicts that "turning our eye away from Afghanistan will bring challenges to all who have served there." Among those challenges, he explains, will be emotional and mental issues.
"Following more than 20 years of combat and trying to help the people of Afghanistan, we're now basically saying it was all for nothing – that's what becomes seared into your mind," he laments.
But he encourages the men and women of America's armed forces to remember primarily that "it was a noble cause to bring justice to al-Qaeda and help the Afghan people" – and not only that, "we kept our country from being attacked on our soil for over two decades."
While Schloesser admits it is disheartening to see Afghanistan fall into the governance of the Taliban once again, he praises what American military forces did in the country. Their efforts "were incredibly noble – [and] no one can take that away."