After 12 tours to Afghanistan, former CIA Officer reflects on conflict drawdown as situation escalates

RAPID CITY, S.D. – All eyes are on Afghanistan this week. The wake of President Biden’s call for swift troop removal has left the country and its people desperate to find a way out as Taliban control sweeps through the country.

American troops are on their way by the thousands. Ron Moeller, a man living tucked away in the Black Hills, is very familiar with Afghanistan after serving 12 tours with the CIA. He watches with the rest of the country as his son is one of those heading east.

“We were usually the first ones into a country and we were the first ones into Afghanistan,” said Moeller.

The war in Afghanistan is one he saw from the beginning as a CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer and watched evolve over 12 deployments.

“You got to see the evolution and the de-evolution and the stagnation of the Afghan security forces and the army and the police, which was really disgusting,” said Moeller. “The videos now showing commanders surrendering in mass, it’s totally disheartening, but not surprising to those of us who were there.”

He characterizes the government as leaning on American support, rather than learning from it. And the mesh of cultures ended up being unsustainable.

“There was a sense of unreality and a sense of not accepting that the Americans and NATO forces were one day going to leave or downsize to the point where ‘It’s not our fight guys, it’s up to you’,” said Moeller.

Now, two decades later his son is putting boots on the ground in Kabul. Biden called Monday for an additional 5,000 troops to the region “to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of U.S. personnel and other allied personnel, and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance.”

“It’s pretty nerve wracking because I’ve been there and I’ve been in these areas and I know the environment but I’ve never been in this much of a chaotic environment and I can’t even imagine their reacting to things that are a minute ago, that’s already changing. I don’t know. I’m worried,” said Moeller.

Addressing the nation, Biden stood strong on his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. Moeller echoed the President’s comments in needing to leave but says, after watching the country get acquainted with education and technology, it all remains in jeopardy as the Taliban gains control.

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