Retired Acadiana marine reacts to chaos unfolding in Afghanistan

Posted at 10:57 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 21:12:09-04

United States troops are heading back to Afghanistan to secure Kabul's main airport. This comes after a chaotic scene Monday, where thousands of people flooded the airport in a desperate attempt to get away from the Taliban.

All U.S. personnel have been evacuated from the country; they'll be followed by U.S. citizens and Afghans who worked with U.S. forces.

Many who are fleeing are worried that the Taliban could carry out revenge attacks against those who worked with the Americans or the U.S. government.

As the Taliban continue to take over Afghanistan, a retired U.S. Marine is watching the chaos unfold from about 7,800 miles away in Acadiana. Jeff Johnson was an active duty Marine for 10 years and served in the reserve forces for 18 years. He was in Afghanistan for six months in 2009, and said what's currently happening there is difficult to watch.

Parts I and II of Johnson's full interview with us are below:

Part I

Part II

Johnson explained that U.S. troops remained in Afghanistan so the Taliban wouldn't be able to reconstitute and rebuild for more attacks, and said that for 20 years, he thinks the U.S. has succeeded in that mission.

He said now, seeing troops leave the country is "frustrating because we've done a lot of good work there and did lots of good things."

The Taliban taking over Kabul so quickly didn't come as a surprise at all to Johnson. President Trump began negotiations with Taliban leaders to leave Afghanistan in 2019. Johnson said he's sure the Taliban have been "getting motivated that America was leaving" and increasing their troops and weapons. The Taliban takeover, he said, was not "an intelligence failure," as described by California Rep. Jackie Speier to NBC Sunday.

He believes the troops leaving will open the door for organizations like Al-Qaeda and maybe even ISIS to enter, leading the way for terrorists to easily spread across the globe.

Department of Defense and other leadership in Afghanistan are all capable and confident, Johnson said, adding, "It's just a withdrawal. That's the way it is."

When it was announced that U.S. troops were leaving Afghanistan, Johnson said his first thought was, "We'll be back." He believes the will of the American people is a strong similarity between the current situation and the Vietnam War - he said it's "unfortunate" that it appears the U.S. doesn't want to be in Afghanistan, but said he believes it's "one of the main reasons Biden wants out."

Johnson told KATC that when he was in Afghanistan, a large portion of the population couldn't read - most of them women. Now, with the Taliban back in Kabul, Johnson said he believes women will bear the brunt of their attacks.

"There will be a lot of death, a lot of torture going forward," he stated. "The Taliban, they're not friendly people. They will torture and kill women for dumb things ... painting signs, death penalty. Women going to school, death penalty. And possibly a torturous death."

Monday, scenes of Afghan citizens hanging on to a U.S. Air Force plane as it departed Kabul were on televisions worldwide. Those individuals were in a desperate situation, trying to do whatever they could to "get on that plane and get out of there."

If you think about the strict protocols on commercial planes, the "rules" for Air Force Plans are much more stringent. It's "way out of the rule book" to get on an Air Force plane as can be seen in the videos, Johnson said, emphasizing how difficult of a task it would be.

"I'm glad they did it and got those people out of there, but it's way out of the rule book."

And now, with social media chronicling every detail of life, Johnson said he's confident moving forward that crimes the Taliban commit will be on those platforms. And while social media doesn't allow violent content, "you can see the effects. Social media will let you see the effects of violence."

"I'm frustrated because Afghanistan is not ready to be left alone. The main reason is because I'm confident the Taliban will let Al-Qaeda in and maybe ISIS, and they'll come back and attack us and in the process, they'll kill a bunch of people that don't need to be killed."

With the situation continuing to unfold, the former Marine worries more violent days are ahead, some of them targeting the U.S.

"If you ask me, I'm concerned," he said. "Just a matter of time."

READ MORE on the chaos in Afghanistan here.

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