The Final Withdrawal

Kyle Kopchak, Sports Editor

On October 7, 2001 American Marines set foot in Afghanistan for the first time. Finally, after thirteen years of bloody conflict and 3,479 American deaths, the final groups of US Marines and British forces began the return trip home. The final major American base located in Helmand province Afghanistan began the withdrawal of 873 Marines and 350 British soldiers on Monday October 27, 2014. This American base located Helmand province, was home to some of the most violent fighting over the 13 year conflict. Four hundred British soldiers and 350 American Marines were killed in the Helmand province alone.

On Sunday, October 26th, American forces officially handed over two military bases and an airstrip to the Afghan army. Reports say that American and British Troops began to disperse from their guard towers around dawn, to be replaced by the Afghan soldiers who now hold the responsibility of running the bases. However, despite the recent collations victories, including the operation to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, large amounts of Afghanistan remain under insurgent control.

Furthermore, a small force of US Army troops will remain at Camp Dewyer in the Helmand province. These US forces are part of a coalition of troops from allied countries that will be stationed throughout Afghanistan to asset and train the Afghan forces. Many Afghan citizens are discouraged with the withdrawal of foreign forces, due to the recent increase of violence in the area. Some Afghan media stations reported that over the summer there were several areas of Helmand province that were close to being overwhelmed by Taliban forces. Despite these reports, both Coalition and Afghan commanders say that the Taliban threat is exaggerated, and that the Taliban forces failed to take any major cities or populated areas.

Every story has a beginning, middle, and an end; and for the Marines who are leaving Afghanistan this is their end. These men and women have done our dirty work for the last thirteen years. They defended a country that was not their own from a threat that had no mercy. Many of these men and women were my age on September 11, 2001, high school seniors who were motivated to serve our nation in her time of need. Now these same high school seniors are mothers and father returning home to their children, and praying that they might never have to experience war. That’s why it is important that our country remembers these men and women’s stories and sacrifices, so that we can learn from our history.

Many of us are reaching an age that when the next war comes we will be called upon to defend the liberty and ideals that our country was founded upon. It is important for the youth of our country to pay attention to the world around us, and not to be quick to sacrifice American lives. So as the war in Afghanistan comes to an end, we began a new American chapter of peace in our nation. As a nation, we need to remember the thirteen years spent in Helmand province, and celebrate the final withdrawal of American troops. As Elmer Davis once said, “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”