After 20 years, more than 2,000 deaths and hundreds of billions of dollars spent, the United States will withdraw all troops from Afghanistan. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden said it’s time to end America’s longest war.
Complete withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan was part of a deal with the Taliban announced by former President Trump just over a year ago.
In a speech Wednesday afternoon, President Biden said it's not the exact deal he would have tried to negotiate, but he agrees on the end goal: "It's time for American troops to come home."
The president honored those who never did come home by visiting Arlington National Cemetery immediately after the announcement.
He said the withdrawal will start after May 1 and will be completed before September 11, marking 20 years since the terrorist attack took the nation to Afghanistan in the first place.
Biden said, twenty years later, there is no justification for the U.S. to remain there.
"We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal and expecting a different result," the president said.
Oklahoma Senator James Lankford said it's a very tough issue. He agrees we can't stay in Afghanistan indefinitely, but he worries no longer having boots on the ground could increase the chance of another 9/11.
"It’s a really hard issue. There is a moment that we are going to need to withdraw," said Sen. Lankford, (R) OK. "But I’m a big believer in we have to have some level of footprint to be able to help protect us in the future."
4th District Congressman Tom Cole agrees.
"I understand the exhaustion, but I think if we lose the central government in Kabul and the Taliban takes over the country, we’re going to find we’re going to have a terrorist problem,” Cole said.
Cole also feels this should be something that Congress votes on.
"I mean, we went to Afghanistan under legislation that was authorized by Congress," Rep. Cole said in an interview Wednesday. "If we’re going to exit, I think we probably ought to have a vote on it. Now, I think probably the vote would be in favor, but still I think Congress are to take responsibility here."
There is also concern among the Oklahoma delegation that the president's announcement could put the troops currently there at risk.
"I wasn’t excited about the fact that President Trump announced the date we were going to pull people out," said Rep. Kevin Hern, (R) OK-1. "I think it’s terrible that President Biden has done that as well."
President Biden said he consulted with military leaders and U.S. allies before making the decision, and as a courtesy, called former President Bush to tell him about it, as it was under his watch that U.S. troops first went over.