Delegate (Colonel) Reid J. Novotny on Service and Afghanistan

I had always wanted to serve in the military. My grandfather was in World War II, my father was in Vietnam, and as I was graduating high school my brother way joining the Air Force. For me, it was about service and a way to go to college because I didn’t have many options for my parents to afford college even 25 years ago. As I was commissioned into the post-Gulf War military, there were Lieutenants tripping over each other looking for work to do. That was 88 days before September 11, 2001, and as you can imagine that day has shaped my military service and desire to be in public service.

President George Bush landed on September 11th at my base in Louisiana and addressed the nation from the conference room that I maintained with some of my troops standing next to him. My first deployment was to Central Command Headquarters as a part of the Coalition Planning Center. My brother received two bronze stars for his service overseas and we have lost 2,448 American troops. One of them was my friend Charles who we lost to a green-on-blue attack.

To say what is unfolding is personal to me and my friends is an understatement.

I have not met a single person in the military in over 20 years who wants to be at war, away from their families, fighting. The people I know in the military want security for their friends and family in the United States and are willing to lay down their lives in defense of the ideals that created this great nation. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is worth defending.

We have a disconnect from most politicians and what works.

When your foreign strategy is based on a bumper sticker, “no more endless wars” you might be destined to have a situation like we see unfolding in Afghanistan today. President Trump wanted all Americans out of Afghanistan on a similar timeline which included conditions on the ground. This implied to the Taliban that the US would stay to ensure the Afghan government was in the best position to succeed.

President Biden announced on April 14, 2021, that we would have all troops out of Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. This is 20 years after the initial attack that brought the US into their longest war. Al Qaeda trained and was supported from Afghanistan and choose the day to attack New York, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon. Why would President Biden choose their symbolic date to remove all our troops while giving the Taliban ample time during their fighting season? Better yet, why would anyone expect a different outcome than we saw unfold?

The Taliban leadership is not friends with the ideas of American freedom. You have seen the CNN reporter who overnight started wearing a headdress to cover herself. Americans must remember that no matter how bad it is here, we still live in the greatest county on Earth. If you steal a loaf of bread, they will cut off your hand. If you are gay, they will stone you to death. Bottom line is that if you don’t fall in line with their interpretation of Sharia Law, your life doesn’t matter no matter what.

 What could we have done differently?

Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) is still a powerful military theorist used to outline principles of when to fight and how to win a war. “War is the continuation of politics by other means,” is one of General Clausewitz's famous quotes. He also covered the decisive point in a war which is when you should declare victory. That happened almost 18 years ago when the US Military dismantled Al Qaeda. The rest of the time, money and American treasures lost were on nation-building. This should not have been the job of the US Military.

What can we do differently in the future?

Elect more people to offices of public service who understand the military through their personal service or those of their family. There are less than 7% of the US population have worn our uniform which is down from 1980 and 18%. I grew up when you could not run for President unless you had honorably served in the military. I encourage all those who read this to buy into the hope of America and defend it with your life as I have sworn to do so.

“I [state your name] Reid J. Novotny, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”