DENVER — Democratic U.S. Congressman Jason Crow said it's "time to bring our men and women home," in response to the announcement President Joe Biden will withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11.
"It is time to end our nation's longest war, there's no doubt about that," Crow, a former U.S. Army Ranger, said in an interview with Denver7. "But I want to make sure we're doing so in a way that protects our men and women in uniform over there because withdrawal operations are some of the riskiest things we do in the military. So, I want to make sure we're doing it right. That we are doing so in a way that keeps faith with our allies — there are more NATO troops than there are American troops right now — and also in a way that protects the vulnerable populations of men and women and children from the Taliban."
Crow said it takes a while to ensure a safe withdrawal, which includes getting equipment out and ensuring weapons and munitions aren't falling into the wrong hands.
"The military knows how to do it. The key here is we're relying on the advice of our commanders to do it the right way, and it's not based on an arbitrary timeline," Crow said.
The plan to withdraw on Sept. 11 will come on the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. A plan was announced in December by then-President Donald Trump to have troops withdrawn by May 1 as part of a peace deal Trump's administration brokered with the Taliban in February 2020.
Biden previously said in a March press conference it would be "hard" to meet the May 1 deadline.
Nader Hashemi, the University of Denver director of the Center for Middle East Studies, says there will be a cost to pulling troops out of Afghanistan.
"The likely consequence will be a Taliban victory in the coming months and years after the American-NATO withdrawal, which will have devastating consequences for women in Afghanistan, for minorities and for gains that were made in health care and education," Hashemi said. "They were in control before 9/11, so we sort of saw what they're capable of. It will be a form of deep, oppressive authoritarianism for women and minorities. So, we're going to see a major rollback of rights for minorities, particularly for women. There's no reason to think that won't happen."
However, Hashemi admits there would never be a good time to withdraw troops. He says the U.S. has been "largely successful in crushing Al Qaeda and defeating ISIS," and the decision by the Biden administration is "hard to dispute."
"We can't do this forever," Crow said. "If there were a military solution to this, we would have found it a long time ago."
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing on Tuesday that Biden would "lay out more specifics" in remarks on Wednesday.