Thousands of members of the armed forces have deployed from San Diego to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past nearly two decades.
Retired Navy Lieutenant Commander and Navy SEAL Ed Hiner was one of them.
The Trump Administration announced this week it would drop troop levels to 2,500 by Jan. 15, 2021. Hiner deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan during his long military career and understands people would like U.S. troops to come home, but said “I just don’t think it needs to happen right now.”
With the transfer of power to a Biden Administration just two months away, Hiner believes the decision about what to do in Afghanistan and Iraq should be left up to the President-elect.
“I personally think it’s best to have the new incoming president to have the ability to make change, and change strategies in Afghanistan," he said.
Hiner deployed to Afghanistan and served under the current acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, who made the announcement about the troop reductions. The retired Navy SEAL said reducing troop levels will be particularly problematic in Afghanistan, and will likely embolden the Taliban, who have not been keeping up to their end of a peace deal there.
“There’s going to be violence when we leave no matter when,” said Hiner.
Afghanistan is also a safe-haven for Al Qaeda, ISIS and other foreign fighters, which is one of the reasons America has been in what is our country's longest war.
In Iraq, the concern is how Iran will react, “So we are going to have a force there to keep them at bay,” said Hiner, adding the U.S. needs to have a strong diplomatic presence to ensure Iraq can continue to rebuild.
In the end Hiner concludes that in the interest of the country, rather than dropping troop levels to keep a political promise, President Trump should reach out to the incoming administration and get them up to speed.
“I think it’s time for him to bring the President-Elect in," he said.