Marine veteran from Charlottesville reflects on war in Afghanistan

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Monday marks exactly 18 years since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Despite it being the longest war the United States has ever fought, the conflict in Afghanistan is still largely misunderstood, according to a Marine veteran from Charlottesville.

Courtney Doyle served at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan in 2013 as an aviation safety officer.

"My role was to investigate mishaps," she said, "and to create the safety plans and basically keep all the aircraft and the people safe."

Doyle said she enjoyed serving her country, and she would be open to returning to Afghanistan if she could keep her same role.

By the time she arrived in the country, Operation Enduring Freedom was already 12 years old. But Doyle said she and her fellow Marines did not really think about whether the conflict was lasting too long.

"To be perfectly honest," she said, "we don't spend a lot of time talking to each other about what our personal opinion of [the conflict] is. In my role, it wasn't to pass judgment on it. If you say that your mission is to help them essentially free themselves, then you know it's just so much more complicated than that. It would need to be a culture change, in some ways, which requires a long time."

The war helped topple Taliban control in Afghanistan, brought a new government and democratic elections, and expanded educational opportunities for girls and women.

However, violence in Afghanistan still remains. At least ten U.S. service members were killed in Taliban-related attacks this past summer.

In a September speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Donald Trump vowed to keep up the fight for as long as it takes.

"The Taliban has chosen to continue their savage attacks," Trump said. "We will continue to work with our coalition of Afghan partners to stamp out terrorism.

A total of 76 soldiers from Virginia have been killed in Afghanistan, including Master Sergeant George Bannar, from Orange. Bannar was killed by hostile fire in August 2013.

That's the same year Doyle was serving at Camp Leatherneck. She said the Marines she served with believed in the mission, despite the cost.

"They're trusting our leadership that this is where we're supposed to be," she said.

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