Former NATO Intelligence Chief shares thoughts on situation in Afghanistan
STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - Staunton native, Melissa Patrick is the VFW District 11 Commander. She served in the Army for 28 years, including serving as NATO’s Chief of Intelligence in Afghanistan in 2005.
On Saturday, WHSV caught up with Patrick to get her thoughts on the situation in Afghanistan.
Patrick said the U.S. exit strategy was flawed, and that it should have prioritized getting all U.S. citizens and Afghans who helped the military out of the country before removing U.S. forces from the ground.
She said prior to pulling out of Afghanistan, the U.S. had found the right solution in how it had been supporting the Afghan army since 2014.
“A very small presence in Afghanistan, and that presence was to serve primarily to bring in air support and intelligence support and so on. The United States has not been engaged in major combat operations in Afghanistan since 2014,” said Patrick.
Since 2014, the U.S. had shifted most of the military operations to the Afghan army while providing intelligence and air support.
Patrick said the U.S. has lost 63 military personnel to hostile action in Afghanistan since 2014, and the burden of the fight had already been shifted to the Afghans, who still need American support.
Patrick said she was shocked to see the footage of the Taliban taking over Kabul, and like many, had thoughts of whether or not the U.S. action in Afghanistan was worth it. However, she is still proud of everything the U.S. military did accomplish in Afghanistan.
“We destroyed the top leadership of Al-Qaeda, but beyond that, in those 20 years, we provided in various areas of Afghanistan some peace and stability that they would not ordinarily have had,” she said.
Patrick said the men and women who fought in Afghanistan can take pride in what they were able to do for women in Afghanistan.
“There are several generations of Afghan girls and women who have learned to read and write and have been educated that would not have been at all had we not been in Afghanistan,” she said.
Patrick worked with Afghan army leadership in her time serving there and hopes that Americans will welcome refugees with open arms.
“Americans in general need to appreciate what the Afghan people did, those who helped the United States, and be welcoming to have them come as refugees into our communities,” she said.
Commander Patrick also wants to highlight the challenges faced by Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans here at home and hopes people will come out to the Queen City Rucking for 22 event in Staunton on Saturday August 28th.
The event is a ruck march that covers 22 kilometers in recognition of that statistic that 22 veterans take their lives every day. The event will raise money for the Specialist Trevor Banks foundation in Harrisonburg which provides resources for combat veterans. You can learn more about that event here.
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