Complex and conflicted emotions tied to Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal announcement

"We want to make sure that that legacy ... that the sacrifices that were made were worth it," U.S. Marine Corps veteran Ashleigh Byrnes told Martha Raddatz.
4:38 | 04/18/21

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Transcript for Complex and conflicted emotions tied to Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal announcement
The United States military has begun strikes against Al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. Troops to Afghanistan. Conditions on the ground not arbitrary timetables will guide our strategy from now on. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin laden is dead and it's time to end the forever war. After nearly 20 years and four administrations, president Joe Biden announced this week U.S. Military presence in Afghanistan will end by September 11th. Some 800,000 U.S. Service members have served at least one tour in Afghanistan, more than 2,300 of those men and women killed. Thousands more wounded along with an estimated 43,000 Afghan civilians. I'll ask U.S. Secretary of state Antony blinken about the remaining security concerns, but first the view from some who have spent months and years in te forever war. It's time for American troops to come home. A flood of complex and conflicted emotions, that's what Marine Corps veteran Ashleigh Byrnes felt watching president Biden's announcement on ending American involvement in the war in Afghanistan. We all have this emotional tie to it, and we want to make sure that that legacy, the sacrifices that were made were worth it. Reporter: Byrnes deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. Did you look around and you thought we're doing good for women, we're fighting terrorists, what was your purpose? It's hard not to feel like you have the ability to make a difference. When you go and see a school being built, when you see infrastructure being stood up, when you see wells going in the ground where people didn't have access to water, it feels good to be able to do those things. Reporter: Over the past two decades, I've spent countless weeks in Afghanistan seeing the progress and the tragic loss. Many of those days were spent with general John Campbell during the height of the war, but after all those years, the general wants to be clear about one comparison. This is not Vietnam. Our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen, our Marines, the great civilians we had there did some great things in Afghanistan but we got to make sure they understood that and the American people understand that. Reporter: But Campbell worries what will happen without the U.S. Presence. We have 5,000 Taliban prisoners in prison, I think they'll all be let go and the Afghan people, I think, are concerned what happens then. How do you balance what America needs for what is going to make Afghanistan a place that ha stability and security and prosperity for more people. Reporter: For years author Gayle tzemach Lemmon has been writing about Afghan women and girls and their fight for equality. It's 20 years that the U.S. Has been there. It can't go on forever so why not now? I think the challenge for women in particular is that they never went from being seen as a pet rock or a pet project to a national security imperative to people that must be there for the future to look different from the past. Reporter: Still a number of veterans of this war feel a pullout is long overdue like Kyle Bibby. I'm proud to have served in the Marine Corps. Reporter: 9/11 motivated him to serve as a marine. The Taliban were definitely responsible for a lot of terrible atrocities, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the United States has, you know, a 20-year commitment towards fighting there. It's a shortsighted decision but I fully understand that the American people have war fatigue. Reporter: Steve brown has been a lead sponsor of a rotary club school in jalalabad, Afghanistan, a school I visited in 2009. It has since graduated thousands of girls and boys, but brown says the U.S. Withdrawal is putting that in jeopardy. I am hopeful but not optimistic about the programs going forward. Reporter: A concern shared even by those who say they know 20 years of war has been more than long enough. I don't think that anyone wants the legacy to be sacrifice begets more sacrifice. We can't use the people who have died or been wounded as justification to keep going on forever.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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