Yesterday’s sobering news of America’s 2,000 KIA in Afghanistan is a stark reminder of the true cost of freedom and security. Each American lost in Afghanistan is remembered, and their sacrifice honored. These men serve as the latest generation of Americans willing to stand in the breach, taking on vicious enemies in the name of free peoples. First and foremost, we honor them.
That said, the war in Afghanistan is now the longest in American history and the outcome is far from certain. With the U.S. surge over, Taliban “insider attacks” on the rise, and an Afghan government still incapable of providing security or basic services to much of the country, the 2014 withdrawal deadline looms large, certain to unleash even more violence and instability. Regardless of the merits of the war, it’s nearly indisputable that as America draws down, the situation will get worse.
Unfortunately, we hear almost nothing about Afghanistan from either presidential campaign. Ultimately, the next Commander-in-Chief will decide the fate of America’s mission there—which will have implications for troops specifically, and America’s reputation generally. The current trajectory of the war is uncertain, and with US policy being the largest determinate of that trajectory, it’s imperative that our presidential candidates explain where they would take the mission. They owe voters, and more importantly, our troops standing on the front lines today.
Pete Hegseth is the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America and the former executive director of Vets for Freedom. He is an infantry officer in the Army National Guard and has served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay.