Local veterans showing frustrations about Afghanistan crisis


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Many veterans in Eastern North Carolina say they are not happy with what is happening in Afghanistan.

While President Joe Biden is defending his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, the situation doesn’t look good when you see what the Taliban has done in quickly taking over the country before the Aug. 31 deadline for the United States’ exit.

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Veterans we spoke with said they are not happy and don’t understand why there was no exit plan in place to protect U.S. citizens. They say they are also shocked to see how rapidly everything unraveled.

“It reminds me of Vietnam completely. The same thing that happened during the Vietnam conflict is happening now,” said Randall Cox, commander of Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Onslow County Chapter 16.

Randall Cox (Amber Joseph, WNCT photo)

“I’m a little bit in shock that it occurred as rapidly as it did, rather expecting a pull-out sooner than we were ready for,” said Eric Cantu, an Army veteran from Kinston.

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Cox and Cantu, who are both Vietnam veterans, said as they watch what’s happening in Afghanistan, they feel the U.S. pull-out lacked planning.

“We’re trying to get back into the country to get our people, just like we did in Vietnam,” Cox said. “We did not have an exit plan, the proper exit plan. All those people that were there should’ve been gone before we withdrew our troops to protect them.”

American citizens, their families and Afghans are at risk of violence from the Taliban as they’ve taken over the country. Cox said he also worries about what this will do to America’s relationship with international allies.

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“I think we have lost face with our international friends because they’ll probably say ‘Why did you just pull out and let everybody just fall to the wayside?'” Cox said.

Over the last two decades, more than 750,000 American service members have been deployed to Afghanistan. The Taliban overran and captured military equipment from Afghan forces who failed to defend district centers, leaving many wondering if U.S. troops’ sacrifices were in vain.

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“Why did they make the ultimate sacrifice if they don’t care. Afghan military just played their rifles down,” said Cox.

“I’m not going to say it was a total waste because we saved many lives. We’ve given hope and in the face of hope we turned around and ran,” said Cantu.

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