After almost 20 years, the last U.S. service members left Afghanistan in the early hours of Aug. 31, 2021.
Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, a former Army Ranger who served two tours in Afghanistan, said he’s still processing it all.
“On the one hand there’s this huge sigh of relief that this war is finally over. It should have ended a long time ago. And we spent a lot of blood and treasure over the last two decades fighting this war,” he said. “On the other hand, so many of my fellow veterans will never fully have this war end for them. So we have our work cut out for us.”
Since early spring, Crow has been one of the loud bipartisan voices at the U.S. Capitol calling on the Biden administration to help Afghans who worked with the United States get out of the country before they suffer reprisals from the Taliban. His bill, the Allies Act, which would have increased the number of Special Immigrant Visas for former Afghan translators and others, passed the House in July. And key provisions were included in the security supplemental bill that was signed into law.
Crow said he’s not giving up on his efforts to help Afghan allies who have been left behind.
“We still have people there that we need to get out — both American citizens and Afghan partners and allies. And we’re going to work hard to do that,” Crow said. He added he’s part of a group in Congress that will work with the administration and make recommendations on how to make that happen.
He acknowledged, though, that the U.S. has fewer options now that troops are out of the country and the U.S. Embassy has closed.
“It’s going to be complicated and certainly more onerous than it was when we had troops on the ground and diplomatic personnel on the ground. But just because it’s challenging doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it,” he said. “We have the moral obligation to make sure that we’re getting our citizens and the Afghan partners out, no matter how challenging that will be.”
And it will also be political. Republicans have been highly critical of the haphazard way the Biden administration conducted the withdrawal, which included the killing of 13 U.S. service members from a bombing at the airport, and the fact that some American citizens were left behind.
“President Biden botched the withdrawal from Afghanistan, putting American lives in harm's way and leaving many Americans stranded in a hostile nation,” tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
McCarthy called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring the chamber back to conduct oversight on how the Biden administration managed the withdrawal. It’s a sign for what to expect should Republicans take control of the House after the 2022 elections.
Despite the chaos of the withdrawal, Crow said the U.S. military is to be commended. “One of the amazing stories here is the heroism and just the herculean feat of our military personnel over the last two weeks evacuating over 120,000 Afghans and Americans. And that is truly, truly, a remarkable thing.”
More to read about Colorado leaders' efforts in Afghanistan:
- Colorado Veteran Faces ‘Black Hole Of Information’ While Trying To Help Interpreters Evacuate Afghanistan
- Afghanistan Withdrawal Upsets And Frustrates Colorado Veterans — Including Rep. Jason Crow
- Rep. Jason Crow’s Push To Secure Visas For Afghan Translators Advances As The US Prepares To Leave The Country
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story misstated the status of the Allies Act. While the bill did not pass the Senate on its own, language from the bill was included in the Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act that did pass and was signed into law.
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