Former military leader fears another conflict like Vietnam in Afghanistan

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The Taliban continues strengthening its stronghold over Afghanistan. 

The regime is spreading across the southern part of the country after U.S. forces started moving out. The U.S. then sent 3,000 troops to Kabul to keep embassy staff safe. 

Many people in Hampton Roads spent time fighting for democracy in Afghanistan. 

Retired Capt. Kenny Golden spent 31 years in the Navy. He had two tours in Iraq and led the Amphibious Task Force West of seven ships and 10,000 sailors. He knows about war.  

He is troubled by America’s quick withdrawal, leaving friends behind to die. Golden says America looks badly, turning backs on friends in time of war, failing to expedite safe passage to America for protection. He compared what is happening now looking a lot like the ending of Vietnam.

“It is an American tragedy and it’s unfortunate. And it is a tragedy for all those people over there that have tried to help us during the Afghan War,” he said.

He’s talking about translators who communicated for our troops on ground and feel abandoned.

“If this is going to be the president’s plan to just pull out of Afghanistan, we have got to get those people out, like the contractors that have helped us,” Golden said. 

Golden sees the Afghan government falling quickly as the Taliban continues running roughshod from city to city with little opposition. 

President Joe Biden is adamant withdrawal is the way.

“It’s up to Afghans to make the decision about the future of their country,” Biden said in a July 8 speech.

The problem with that: Golden calls the Taliban the most evil fighters of all, and he says it will be the Taliban that decides the government. 

“Putting people in the stadiums and beheading them, and women and children, if they have been on the American side, they will be killed. Wholesale slaughter,” Golden said, describing the Taliban’s actions.

Golden faults the current Biden plan as “no plan.”

“What happens after that? The most critical question is what happens after the country collapses? What is going to happen to our country? What is going to be the threat to our country?” he asked. 

We reached out to Congresswoman Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk) who was unavailable, but she did send this statement we have included without edit: 

“As a 20-year Navy veteran, I understand the sacrifices the men and women in uniform made over the last twenty years in the Global War on Terror. I do not want those sacrifices to have been in vain. My heart goes out to the Afghan people and the Americans working in our embassy. I have grave concerns about the security situation in Afghanistan, as a Taliban-led government would enable malign actors like Hezbollah and Iran and embolden our adversaries like China and Russia. As the situation on the ground is rapidly developing, I am focused on securing sufficient resources for our national defense in the upcoming defense budget so we can project military strength in the face of these setbacks.” 

“The President has decided we need to just leave Afghanistan.  We need to pull the plug, and just leave, and that is not a strategy,”  Golden told us, “even President Trump would have gone for that strategy, but his military advisors said no you need to make a phased withdrawal with a plan to go back in, and help the Afghan people.” 

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby is supporting the Biden administration.

“Nobody is abandoning Afghanistan. No one is walking away from this. This is the right time to do it to protect our people,” Kirby said.

Golden says we are abandoning them.

“If we were going to do a withdrawal from Afghanistan, it should not be unilateral, but a withdrawal with all our NATO allies, with a plan for how to do that, and we never produced that plan in this administration,” he said.

Biden recently addressed Afghanis who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. troops and who want to make America home.

“This is a home for you in the U.S. if you so choose, and we will stand with you as you stood for us,” he said.  

Golden notes a truth when regimes change.

“History hates a vacuum and what has just happened is a giant vacuum. The giant sucking sound of us leaving Afghanistan in a very [small amount] of time, and who is going to come back in, and then what is going to be created in Afghanistan?” he said.

Golden says look no further than the Vietnam War to see what is about to happen in Afghanistan, 

“I think there are so many similarities to what happened in the Vietnam War. Our walking out and leaving the Vietnamese people. We walked out and left them in a lurch, and that is exactly what we are doing in Afghanistan,” he said.

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