A parade in Portsmouth, NH to honor Afghanistan War veterans has been postponed due to the fall of Kabul to the Taliban.

U.S. troops started their withdrawal from the country in July and it was believed it would take some time for the Taliban to regain control. The speed at which it happened caught President Joe Biden and members of his administration off guard.

Josh Denton, the new commander of the VFW in Portsmouth is an Iraq War combat veteran and former Portsmouth city councilor. He told Seacoast Current on Monday the board voted at its meeting Wednesday to postpone the parade until spring.

The vote came after a conversation about the situation Denton had with the chair of the parade committee.

"I said, 'Ten provinces have fallen. This is going to come apart quickly.' And it seemed more appropriate to let things play out and delay for a couple of months," Denton said. "The goal is still to thank all veterans for their service, especially the Afghanistan veterans for their service."

Denton said the parade was never intended to become political or about how people feel about the withdrawal.

"It will be a fresh nerve for a lot of people who lost a family member or someone who served or lost a friend there or those who served who still have translators there," Denton said.

Denton said a friend sent him a video of a C-17 with people desperate to escape Afghanistan falling from the plane as it took off.

"I used to jump for C-17's as a paratrooper. It was a crazy juxtaposition knowing 'Yeah, I've fallen from one of those,' but it's just for four seconds and your chute opens," Denton said.

NH Congressional Delegation Expresses Frustration

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, is a critic of America's withdrawal and sits on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees. She is concerned about the safety of Americans in Afghanistan and our allies.

"The U.S. must take every step to protect U.S. personnel and save our Afghan partners. It must be made clear to the Taliban that a return to violence and oppression will be met with fierce rebuke from the international community," Shaheen said in a tweet.

Shaheen's response was blasted by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who called it "ridiculous" in a tweet.

"You think the Taliban cares about 'fierce rebuke' from the international community? Joe Biden and his Democratic enablers like Senator Shaheen caused this debacle and this now becoming a terrorist nest again is their responsibility," the 2016 presidential candidate and former Trump advisor said.

Shaheen on Monday issued an additional statement calling for the immediate evacuation of SIV applicants who stood "shoulder to shoulder with American troops on the battlefield."

Shaheen wants parts of the SIV application process that cannot be completed in Afghanistan to be waived.

"The same should be done for Afghans who assisted the U.S. mission through non-governmental organizations and aid agencies, and other vulnerable populations such as journalists, human rights defenders and women leaders," Shaheen said. "And there must be an immediate expansion of the refugee program for Afghan women seeking asylum, whose lives are in jeopardy as the Taliban resumes control and turns back the clock on 20 years of progress for women’s rights."

Shaheen also said she has expressed "deep concern" about the impact of withdrawal on the rights of women that are threatened under Taliban rule.

Sen. Maggie Hassan, who visited Afghanistan in 2019 and met with Afghan women, shared Shaheen's concerns and said blame for the fall went beyond the Biden administration.

“The situation in Afghanistan is the result of failures by multiple administrations. I have long said that any withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan must be based on facts on the ground, not arbitrary deadlines. Instead, we have seen a precipitous withdrawal with no real plan in place to ensure the peace and stability of Afghanistan and its people," Hassan said.

Hassan also wanted to learn why intelligence failed to underestimate the speed of the Taliban takeover.

Rep. Chris Pappas called the scenes from Afghanistan devastating and deeply concerning.

"Our first priority must be the immediate evacuation of U.S. citizens, SIV applicants, and our allies who stood beside us and whose lives are now in danger. There will be time to re-examine foreign policy failures over two decades that shaped today’s events," Pappas said in a statement. "But now we must do all we can to ensure the safe return of Americans and our partners and honor the service of all those who deployed to Afghanistan and their families."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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