(FOX 9) - As the frantic evacuation quickly unfolds in Afghanistan, so many who served there for over two decades are dealing with complex and mixed emotions.
"Everybody over there gave some, and some gave all.. to hope the world would be a better place," said Afghanistan veteran Dan Meyer.
Meyer deployed in 2004 with the 367th Combat Engineer Battalion out of St. Cloud. He figured, even then, that the U.S. would have to stay indefinitely or it would return to civil war.
"I would say 90% of them wanted us there to help ensure they would go back to the freedoms they used to have," Meyer said.
Bill Davnie, who is also retired, spent time in Afghanistan during his 27 years as a foreign service officer.
"We should have left in 2003. We finished what we came to do, which was to hit Al-Qaeda. I think we should have seen it coming, but we had convinced ourselves that the training of their armed forces would have had some serious impact and success," he said.
Davnie said the speed of the Taliban’s advance shows a huge intelligence failure to recognize the deals they’d cut with tribal leaders. But, Davnie also believes the Taliban’s return to power was likely inevitable no matter when we left.
"It’s hard to see that there’s a fundamental difference given that we were intervening in a civil war and outside intervention in civil wars are rarely successful."