While our tactical-level units have performed admirably in Afghanistan, our political leaders, policymakers, and senior general officers have failed them. It is the lack of a consistent and comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan that prevents the Afghan nation’s stability. Three administrations have mishandled the war in Afghanistan. And, after nearly 20 years in the country, we have little to show for our efforts.

As a retired general officer, I include myself in these failures. We have lionized the generals when we should have lionized our men and women that did the work under poor policy and strategy and an inadequate operational approach. They have taken the Afghan government, military, and police as far as they could. It is now up to the Afghans. Good tactics never fix bad strategy.

I give credit to President Trump for promoting our withdrawal. It is way overdue. Unfortunately, it was two secretaries of defense and two chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that did not provide him with a withdrawal plan. In addition, four CENTCOM commanders, three SOCOM commanders, and four American ISAF commanders failed as well. For quite some time now, the filling of bodybags and hospital beds has not been justified, and nobody is being held accountable for that.

We have two choices.

The advocates that say we should stay need to commit to countering the Taliban, AQ, ISIS, and return to a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy approach (this would require the right people). Otherwise, we should leave.

Our departure would need to be an international effort and focus on economic and diplomatic support underwritten by political. The military would leave a small regional counterterrorism capability to support the Afghan government in targeting AQ and ISIS. Those that lament that the Taliban will take over need to know that the Taliban have been a part of the Afghan government since the first election in 2004. The Taliban are Afghans. AQ and ISIS are not.

I have many friends in Afghanistan and have lost colleagues in combat. I do not take this lightly, but after nearly 20 years, 2,218 Killed in Action, 20,093 Wounded in Action, and three trillion dollars spent, the Taliban still control 90 percent of the country, AQ has resurged, and ISIS has joined the fight. We are not getting the strategic results we need for the investment. Thankfully, the acting secretary of defense is moving forward with ending the forever war.

As I write this article the following observations come to mind: