Florida National Guard boss to troops on Afghanistan: ‘You will go down as the heroes of this story’
Image via AP.

Soldiers in Afghanistan
American troops' service, the general asserted, was not in vain.

The Florida National Guard’s top-ranking general performed a delicate balancing act Tuesday, reaffirming Florida’s troops as heroes of America’s longest war while also validating some wondering if their sacrifice proved fruitless.

In a written address to Guardsmen, Maj. Gen. James Eifert described the fall of Afghanistan as “gut wrenching” and recognized the mixed feelings troops may share. Those feelings, he wrote, are natural.

“You sweated under the summer sun there and shivered under the winter moon,” Eifert wrote. “Some of you spilled your blood there, and some even lost battle buddies there. I understand that you may feel betrayed by what’s happening right now.”

Indeed, the Taliban emerged Sunday as the benefactors of America’s 20-year occupation.

While Taliban fighters sprawled across the country and paraded into the country’s capital touting U.S. equipment, Americans scrambled to flee.

The images, Eifert wrote, left him “stunned,” particularly at the cost of more than 2,300 American lives.

Still, he wrote, American troops’ service was not in vain.

A former pilot, Eifert  highlighted the prevention of foreign terror attacks on U.S. soil since 2001.

What’s more, he said, the sacrifice of service members provided Afghans the opportunity to thrive.

“Over the past 20 years, Afghan women and children grew up with dreams made possible by education and safety that had been denied to previous generations,” Eifert wrote. “You showed them what is possible when people are free. You protected the innocent and fought the wicked. There is no way to quantify what that is ‘worth.’ It is immeasurable.”

Eifert, who’s led Florida’s 12,000 soldiers and airmen since 2019, acknowledged some troops will need time to process the complex and emotional spiral of Afghanistan.

He encouraged veterans to seek help to address the remaining physical and physiological wounds.

Those with struggles, he added, need not face them alone.

“There’s no way right now to know how historians and pundits will record this Afghanistan experience in our nation’s history,” Eifert wrote. “But there’s one thing I’m sure of … you will go down as the heroes of this story.”

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


  • Sonja Fitch

    August 18, 2021 at 5:09 am

    Thank you for trying. Building countries have to step up and do IT themselves. Maybe we are so good and big and caring we give them the impression that WE Will Always be there. Peace and love always America!

Comments are closed.


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