The Longest War: Veterans Reflect On 20 Years Of Conflict In Afghanistan


September 9, 2021

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Bajun Mavalwalla and his son Baji Mavalwalla speak on NPR about their tours of duty in Afghanistan.

The U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan is officially over.

But for the more than 800,000 men and women who served there — not a day goes by that they don’t think about it.

Some feel a measure of success:

“The genie is out of the bottle in Afghanistan, the Taliban may try to turn back the clock, but they can’t,” Bajun Mavalwalla says. “We have moved that country forward and it’s irreversible. I’m actually slightly optimistic for the long haul.”

Afghanistan Was It Worth It

Others feel no optimism at all:

“It felt awful to be involved in a conflict that was pointless because every every bad thing that happens didn’t have to,” Laura Jedeed says. “The feeling that it was for nothing … there’s a nihilism to it. … It rots the soul.”

In the second installment of our series ‘The Longest War,’ veterans talk about how U.S. soldiers may have left Afghanistan, but the war has not left them.


Bajun Mavalwalla, retired intelligence officer with the California National Guard. He served with the Army’s 19th Special Forces Group from 2002-2003. He now runs a small defense training and security company with his son, but they’ve put their business on hold and are working to help Afghans leave their country. (@BajunMavalwalla)

Baji Mavalwalla, former sergeant with the California National Guard as an electronic warfare voice intercept operator. He deployed to Afghanistan from March 2012 until December 2012.

Laura Jedeed, former sergeant with the Army’s 82nd Airborne, she served as an intelligence analyst. She deployed to Afghanistan twice – for three months in 2008 and a year in 2010. (@LauraJedeed)

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Tim Kudo, former marine captain with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2009 and 2011. (@KudoTim)