United States Special Forces veteran Jay Collins, who was wounded multiple times in combat in Afghanistan, called the disastrous nature of President Joe Biden’s withdrawal “heartbreaking,” in an interview with Breitbart News this week.
“We’ve spent a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in that country over the last couple of decades in giving back and helping build them up. It’s heartbreaking — our military, the people in the State Department, and other American citizens are in there. I’m sure their minds kind of going a million miles an hour of the fear and the misunderstanding and all the things going on,” he said.
“Personally, it’s heartbreaking, you know, we didn’t have to have this happen. There’s a right way and wrong way to leave any engagement. I don’t think anybody wants [the Afghanistan War] to be around forever. But we do have to leave in a time and in a way that sets our allies up for success. It’s hard to watch. It really is,” he said.
Collins has invested his own blood in the conflict. Serving as a Green Beret medic with a small team embedded with local Afghan forces in the remote mountains of Afghanistan, he was hit in the arm but continued fighting and later performed surgery on himself. It was about 30 days later when he was hit again, this time with a worse outcome.
“I was at Firebase Anaconda up in the mountains, at a very remote firebase, it was so far from the other Americans there. We had one [Operational Detachment — Alpha] along with a few other American attachments, like our [human intelligence officers] and signal guys, that was really about it and about 50 to 75 Afghans we worked with on a regular basis,” he said.
“It was very much akin to the wild west. It was so kinetic. We had a TIC-rate or a troops-in-contact about 95% of the time,” he said. He recalled:
So every time we went outside the wire back then it was an absolute kind of fight. You know, it’s definitely weighs on you. During that rotation we were part of the very first-ever direct attack on a U.S. firebase, when they tried to overrun Firebase Anaconda, and we pushed them back for off-and-on over 30 days…It’s was something else. It was eye-opening to say the least. It’s a beautiful country and there are amazing people there, but they’ve been fighting for so, so very long.
His first injury was in 2007. Collins took a bullet that ricocheted off his swing arm gun mount. He said several others were injured and they were evacuated first. He applied a tourniquet and continued to fight. The next day, he performed surgery on himself. He was back in the fight a month later. His second injury came during the Battle of Firebase Anaconda.
“We were getting assaulted directly with mortars rockets, small arms, some higher caliber weapons. Ultimately, we take a few mortar rounds and I went down a flight of steps and honestly got peppered with shrapnel and it was not a big deal but over time, my leg continued to just fall apart and eventually it led to the loss of my left leg,” he said.
Collins remained active-duty and went on to serve with U.S. Army Special Operations Command before retiring in late 2018. He is now running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in Florida’s 14th congressional district against Democrat Rep. Kathy Castor.
He slammed Biden’s lack of leadership on the withdrawal and blaming others for the outcome unfolding in Afghanistan.
From his perspective after serving in the military and leading a non-profit, he said there were many mistakes made by the Biden administration on the drawdown.
“You can’t broadcast when you’re leaving and when you expect to have certain troops on the ground in combat, in business, or really in any facet of life and not be taken advantage of,” he said.
He said another mistake was leaving the Afghans to support themselves in the middle of the Taliban’s summer fighting season. “So we pulled out at the absolute worst time with poor coordination after broadcasting and telegraphing our plan to the world.”
“And then when we saw Taliban rolling across the country, we decided to double down — by we, I mean, the Biden administration — saying that, ‘No it’s going to be okay, the Afghans will hold,’” he said. “It was pretty obvious at that time that they needed support.”
He said contrary to Biden’s assertion that he had no choice but to continue with the drawdown of U.S. troops to zero in the country, he could have slowed the withdrawal until winter, when the Taliban fighting season was over. “It sounds like President Biden, frankly, failed to listen to their military advisors,” he said.
He also slammed the administration for not blowing up more equipment left in place.
“Why give our enemy our equipment, all our rounds, our support, our bullets? It should have been done in an intelligent, thought-out, drawn-out approach, so we didn’t leave our enemy with the tools we used, against the very people we fought for. And in many cases fought with,” he said.
Collins was raised in a small farming community in northeastern Montana, where he was adopted by his grandparents and raised by a World War II veteran. He said there he learned the ethics of hard work and American idealism. He wants to do more to unite Americans, rein in out-of-control spending, secure the border, and defend law enforcement.
“America is [a] blessed nation that we have to take care of… No matter what, that is a principle that we have to pass on to our children and the other generations. My dad often told me that if good people don’t stand up, the world’s already lost. So ultimately we have to stand up, and we have to do it now,” he said.