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Chief Rogers served in the U.S. Navy, including time in Afghanistan, for 26 years. | Col­legian Archives

After 20 years of mil­itary occu­pation in Afghanistan, American troops have been fully with­drawn from the region. The Biden administration’s ongoing evac­u­ation was com­pleted Aug. 30, as the last C‑17 Globe­master departed the Kabul airport at 11:59 p.m. local time, leaving Afghanistan under Taliban rule. 

Over the span of the two-decade occu­pation of Afghanistan, many service members fought for, defended, and lost their lives in the pro­tection of their country. Mul­tiple pro­fessors and stu­dents at Hillsdale were them­selves sta­tioned in Afghanistan, or had family and friends there. 

Assistant Pro­fessor of History and 1st Lt. Jason Gehrke ’07 was awarded the Bronze Star in 2013 for his service pro­viding support to combat oper­a­tions in Afghanistan. Gehrke said he hoped the mil­itary oper­a­tions in Afghanistan would inspire renewed reflection on the prin­ciples that should guide American actions abroad.

“In the next few weeks, maybe even months, we will con­tinue to hear a good many com­men­tators pro­claiming their various cer­tainties about what has hap­pened. But we should remember with Socrates that the future is uncertain,” Gehrke wrote in an email. “Whether or not this with­drawal serves the advantage of the United States will depend a great deal on the pru­dence of our leaders going forward. 

And in that vein, I hope Amer­icans (or at least Hillsdale stu­dents) will resist the temp­tation merely to observe and forget the withdrawal.”

Cit­izens should discuss the event cau­tiously, he added, making sure not to con­tribute to America’s “col­lective cynicism.”

“This event should inspire a renewed and col­lective engagement with western intel­lectual and mil­itary history, and with those com­men­tators, whose learning or expe­rience has earned them the right to speak,” Gehrke said. “Oth­erwise, the with­drawal will become just another instrument of Amer­ica’s col­lective cyn­icism. And that truly dis­honors the American warfighter.”

Asso­ciate Dean of Men, Jeffrey “Chief” Rogers served in the U.S. Navy for 26 years. Rogers noted that he was glad the fight stayed overseas.

“I will always support away games. I never, I repeat never, want to take the fight home,” he said. “Afghanistan in my humble opinion was a safety value to keep our eyes on the biggest threat to democracy around the world: radical Islamic extremists.”

Cit­izens at home, however, were still pro­foundly impacted by the effects of U.S. presence overseas. Rogers high­lighted the impor­tance of inten­tional prayer for ser­vicemen and women and their families.

“I’m praying for the fam­ilies whose sons and daughters paid another installment to democracy,” he said. “Unfor­tu­nately freedom and democracy are not free. It can ulti­mately cost the lives of those who love freedom.  May God con­tinue to bless the United States of America.”

Pro­fessor of Ancient History Kenneth Calvert par­tic­i­pated in mission trips in Peshawar, Pak­istan, which borders Afghanistan. Calvert explained that Afghanistan has been caught in four decades of com­peting interests between Russia, Iran, Pak­istan, China, and the United States, saying that the military’s retreat from the country was not necessary.

“There was a process in place involving NATO allies to make Afghanistan some­thing akin to the Korean peninsula. Such a set­tlement is now impos­sible. The Afghan people, their culture and pol­itics, will return to the ferocity of the 1990s,” Calvert said. “Daily reports tell of summary exe­cu­tions and the reestab­lishment of a strict Sharia law. Waves of refugees are again fleeing into Pak­istan. The Afghan people need our prayers and what support we can provide.”