NEW YORK - Retired Marine Sgt. Rob Jones has a hard time imagining what it’s like in Afghanistan right now. But he understands the desperation and turmoil.
"These people are so desperate that they’re willing to hand their child to you," he said. "The most important thing in their life and probably never see them again."
The 35-year-old was on a tour there back in 2010 when he was badly wounded 4 months into his 7-month deployment after stepping on an IED.
More than a decade later, the double above the knee amputee shared his thoughts on the ongoing crisis.
"What we’re trying to do over there- bring freedom and democracy to a country that’s never had it and has been oppressed for such a long time," he said. "It’s not something that will happen in a short period. I know twenty years is a long time to be at war. This is something that only happens through generational change."
Jones tells us he’s proud of the troops on the ground but disappointed in leadership.
He calls President Biden’s decision not to extend the withdrawal deadline a big mistake.
"The people that are representing us are treating these terrorists like they’re benevolent leaders," he said. "It’s the way that the leadership handling the situation that makes these deaths feel especially poignant and unnecessary."
Retired Army Corporal Chris Levi also served in Afghanistan back in 2006. He too is appalled by the Taliban takeover and recent ISIS attack and tells me he’s deeply saddened by what he calls a lack of U.S. leadership.
"I wish they had the authorization to do more," he said. "The withdrawal of the U.S. troops wasn’t completely unexpected. The Taliban taking over was to be expected but the recent attack was unexpected."
As for Jones - he’s doubtful anything will change before the withdrawal deadline and wishes he could’ve done more to help Afghanistan.
"We need to have more perseverance and stick around until we do the job that we went there to do correctly and we leave the country stronger than when we found it."