It’s time to bring our soldiers home.

I never thought I would say that.

I thought we had learned our lesson in Vietnam.

And I thought after walking through the dust and the debris from 9/11 we would enter this campaign with a determination to strike and eliminate the aggressor with a response and a military campaign never seen before.

After all, we had studied the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan from the very beginning to the end. We knew the players and the rules by which they played. We knew their tactics, their cultures and their ability to like no one. Money ruled everyone.

We watched and learned then that today’s ally could and would be tomorrow’s enemy but an ally again in several months. Cash money does wondrous things where few people make as much as $75-$100 a year.

It had been obvious to American military observers that the various cultures and societies in Afghanistan resented the pro-communist government that Russia supported when we decided to help the Afghans.

We even helped the Afghans with equipment and feet on the ground. Aid from America was the turning point in the Russia-Afghanistan conflict, giving Afghanistan the necessary support to send the Russians packing and embarrassed.

After nine years of fighting the Afghans, the Taliban and the Mujahedeen, the Russians packed up and went home.

While the U.S. military may have learned its lessons, our government did not. If you enter a war, you enter to win, and while that may have been our original intent, Washington somehow hijacked the mission and the operational plans.

Congressional leaders, even presidents, frequently changed the rules of engagement and set guidelines on when our soldiers could fire their weapons and when they couldn’t. They created policies that didn’t suit our hosts. They allowed civilian contractors to help fight a war to keep the pressure off of Congress.

As a public, we should be shocked at the amount of money we have spent, as well as the amount of cash money that is unaccounted for to this day.

The war in Afghanistan and the Middle East has been an expensive war and estimates are that we have spent over $5.6 trillion dollars to date in America’s longest war.

NEWSMAX Magazine, in August, reported that we averaged spending $250,000 a day over 17 years and we spent $7.9 trillion that was added to the national debt over several decades for interest on money we borrowed in order to fight the war.

The human cost has been even greater.

There have been more than 2,300 U.S. service deaths since the military campaign began and an additional 1,700-plus civilian contractors have died in the war zone. Thousands of locals in Afghanistan have died as well.

More than 1,600 veterans have suffered major injuries that have resulted in one or more amputations and NEWSMAX reported another 327,000-plus soldiers have been diagnosed with PTSD and or traumatic brain injuries.

A 2016 Veterans Affairs study reported that as many as 20 post- 9/11 vets were committing suicide every day.

The annual VA budget has risen from $60 billion in 1960 to more than $185 billion today. These costs are just part of the combat story.

The Taliban want us out. We have been in off-and-on talks with Taliban representatives along with Afghanistan since 2011. Everybody wants a bigger share of the pie and it seems when we get close to a common plan and exit, one party or another jumps ship and creates havoc.

The mantra of the enemy includes killing their own in order to strike U.S. and allied troops. However, the enemy learned quickly that the American warriors were superb fighters, brave, skilled and willing to win under any conditions placed on the battlefield.

Our soldiers have performed superbly on many different fronts in 100-degree plus weather, as well as in the snow and ice. They have battled scorpions when they weren’t involved in fire fights and they have fought an enemy that takes death for granted and who considers death as a way out of a merciless environment.

Our soldiers and their weapons remain unequalled on the battlefield.

We went into Afghanistan with honorable intentions and to find a terrorist who attacked Americans and American soil. At the same time, we talked of securing equal rights and freedom for a society that has never enjoyed those levels of security.

We should not fail in that mission. It was and continues to be a major challenge.

Still, it’s time to bring our troops home.

Jimmy Terrell is retired from a career in law enforcement and is a Winder city councilman. He can be reached at ejterrell65@gmail.com.

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