Seventy-three percent of veterans think the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan tarnished America’s legacy in the war on terror, according to a poll taken a year after U.S. forces pulled out of the country in 2021.
About 5,500 veterans responded to the poll from the veterans advocacy organization Mission Roll Call, Military Times reported. The results are available on Mission Roll Call’s website, but there are no details on exactly how or when the poll was conducted.
Asked how the withdrawal influenced their views of “America’s legacy in the Global War on Terror,” 73 percent of veterans said “negatively,” while 18 percent reported having no opinion. According to the poll results, 83 percent of veterans said they were not “satisfied” with the degree to which senior officials have been held accountable for the withdrawal’s “execution.”
The complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August 2021, which saw the country swiftly retaken by the Taliban after 20 years of war, was criticized as a chaotic strategic blunder, while President Joe Biden defended the war’s immediate end.
The withdrawal, which saw 13 U.S. troops killed in a suicide bombing, is now the subject of investigations by the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees.
The executive director of Mission Roll Call, Cole Lyle, called the withdrawal “a very raw subject for people who deployed to Afghanistan themselves.”
“We wanted to get a sense of how the community still felt about it, because we traveled across the country, through high veteran population areas … and we were still getting very visceral responses when we would start talking about Afghanistan,” Lyle said.
At the time of the withdrawal, a Pew Research Center poll found that 52 percent of veterans thought it was the right decision. However, 60 percent of veterans said the Biden administration had done a “poor” job handling it.
Views on how the withdrawal was handled were sharply divided along party lines. Ninety-five percent of Republican veterans said the administration’s execution was either “poor” or “only fair,” while among Democrat veterans, 49 percent said it was either “good” or “excellent.”