REVERE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Local veterans were demoralized on Sunday as reports poured in that the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, had been entered by the Taliban.
United States has maintained a military and diplomatic presence in the country for the last 20 years, after invading in 2001. U.S. Army Veteran Marc Silvestri of Revere served a tour in Afghanistan between 2008 and 2009. He was disheartened to hear the news Sunday.
"It's a sad moment," he said. "I could have never told you that this would have happened this fast," Silvestri continued. He supported the military withdrawal from Afghanistan, but was surprised that the Afghan Army collapsed so quickly.
"Too much time, too much effort and money was being put into Afghanistan if they weren't going to stand up on their own, but I never thought that they would just fold," he said.
Silvestri was injured during his tour, eventually earning the Bronze Star with Valor for his heroism after he and his men were ambushed along the Pakistani border. He's part of a group of veterans helping to bring Afghani interpreters to the United States, who would be viewed as traitors to a Taliban-controlled government.
"You have the watches, we have the time."
Rep. Jake Auchincloss, who represents the Massachusetts 4th Congressional District, served in Afghanistan in 2012 as a platoon commander. He told WBZ NewsRadio on Sunday that the situation was "appalling" but that the fall of Kabul and the Taliban takeover was always a possibility. He blamed the situation in Afghanistan on local politics, saying a counter-insurgency war in the country was "unwinnable" without Afghan political will, which wasn't there.
"This nation has spent 20 years, 2 trillion dollars, and tens of thousands of lives trying to build a nation in Afghanistan, and only the Afghan people can do that. The Afghan Government's lack of leadership has left their front lines demoralized, and collapsing," he said.
He said the Taliban's strategy was to wait for the United States to get frustrated and outlast the country's war effort.
He quoted a maxim he would hear in Taliban-controlled Afghan villages that he patrolled in southern Helmand Province during his tour of duty: "You have the watches, we have the time."
WBZ's Shari Small (@ShariSmallNews) reports: