‘It’s heartbreaking’: Retired US Army colonel from DC responds to Taliban moving into Kabul

A retired U.S. Army colonel and attorney who served in the country says he’s very concerned for Afghanistan as the Taliban move into Kabul.

“It’s shocking and heartbreaking,” said John Siemietkowski, a retired U.S. Army colonel, former Rule of Law deputy director and U.S. Deputy Justice attaché in Afghanistan.

Siemietkowski, who is from the D.C. area, said it was especially worrisome that everything was happening so fast.

“Even though things have accelerated in the last few days, I still had no idea that the Taliban would get into control so quickly, and that the embassy would be so fully evacuated in such a short period of time,” Siemietkowski said.

He said it’s personal to him and he fears for those over there being able to get out.

“I put a year into that place in my military role, and six months into that place in my Justice Department role. It’s heartbreaking to see it fall apart,” he said.

“I also know Afghans who are still over there, who have worked with the Americans and are trying to get out and are struggling to. And now Afghan Americans who have family members over there are very worried and trying to get out,” he said.

Talking about women’s rights, Siemietkowski said that’s a real concern.

Many Afghans fear that the Taliban could reimpose a rule that all but eliminated women’s rights and were rushing to leave the country to avoid being caught there.

“The Taliban need to carry through on what they promised, which will be a peaceful transition of power, and no retribution against any of the citizens,” Siemietkowski said. “And they need to crack down on any renegade members of their organization that do try to seek revenge, and we do that very quickly, very publicly.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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