After last year’s chaotic troop withdrawal, there’s been a lot of soul-searching over the US deployment in Afghanistan and the purpose for being there. How is it possible that the same Taliban who opened their doors to Al Qaeda and were thrown out of power by the U.S. invasion in 2001 are now back in charge?
Retired four-star Gen. Joseph Votel, our next speaker, is uniquely positioned to give an overview of the 20-year deployment and the lessons learned from it. He has the view from the ground and from the senior command level.
As a commander in the 75th Army Rangers regiment, then-Colonel Votel led the forces that parachuted onto an airfield in Kandahar in October 2001 and secured what would become a major Marine base. It was called Operation Rhino.
His last post was commander of the U.S. Central Command from 2016 to 2019. There he oversaw the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as well as the war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Gen. Votel served in the U.S. Army for 39 years, starting as an Infantry officer fresh out of West Point in 1980, and retiring in 2019 with four-star rank. He did tours in Germany and Italy then went on to serve in Sarajevo with the NATO Peace Implementation Force. Besides Afghanistan, he did front line combat tours in Panama and Iraq and led forces including special forces at every level. He also served with the 82nd Airborne Division.
President Barack Obama nominated Gen. Votel in 2014 to serve as commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. He then named him commander of the U.S. Central Command.
The Central Command’s area of responsibility is the greater Middle East, an area that stretches from Morocco to Pakistan and includes some of the most unstable places on the planet.
He’s currently the CEO and President of Business Executives for National Security