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Local veteran one year after Afghanistan withdrawal: 'We tried to dip our hands into too many baskets'

Sgt. Dave Gedman served in Afghanistan in 2008. He said looking back on the withdrawal a year later teaches many different lessons to the U.S.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Aug. 30 will be one year since the U.S. pulled its last remaining troops from Afghanistan after over two decades in the country in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans.

Former U.S. Army sergeant Dave Gedman served served three active duty tours in the Middle East, including one in Afghanistan in 2008. He is glad the U.S. pulled out after gaining little while sacrificing thousands of American lives, he said.

"I'm glad that we're not seeing headlines of U.S. servicemen and women dying over there, getting blown up by roadside bombs or IEDs or whatever else," Gedman said. "Those headlines aren't coming across our TVs anymore."

He said Afghanistan is more tribal than the U.S., making long-term stability much harder.

"The Afghani people, they've got their tribes and their small areas, and I think for them to unite as a country is much more difficult than it would be for us," Gedman said.

The U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan ahead of schedule, evacuating all personnel in a matter of weeks. The Taliban quickly reclaimed territory and now holds power.

"Absolutely wasn't a perfect withdrawal, I don't think anybody will argue that," Gedman said. "But nobody thought (the Afghan army) would fold that quickly."

He sees the withdrawal as a reminder that the U.S. can't serve as the world's police, especially when the objective isn't clear.

Gedman said the two decades the U.S. spent in Afghanistan, a military effort President Joe Biden called the "forever war," is a lesson in overextension. The U.S. ultimately fought two wars in the Middle East and paid for it dearly, Gedman said.

"I think we tried to dip our hands into too many baskets, and we got bit," Gedman said. "I think that's the biggest lesson the U.S. government can learn."

While the exact number is unknown, there are still Americans left in Afghanistan.

According to an article published on the Afghan Embassy's website, there are an estimated 100-200 Americans still in the country.

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