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Afghanistan becomes 'very personal' for Ortt, who served in Kandahar

Rob Ortt in a dark navy blazer and white shirt, standing before a podium with a WBFO microphone on it
Mike Desmond
Senate Minority Leader Robb Ortt of North Tonawanda spent a year in Afghanistan as a combat mentor and advisor for the New York National Guard.

It’s not uncommon for a legislative leader in New York state government to write to federal officials about a pressing issue, but Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt has a unique perspective on world events right now.

The North Tonawanda Republican from the 62nd Senate district was in Afghanistan for a year in 2008 as part of his service with the New York Army National Guard. He served as a combat mentor and advisor to the Afghan National Police in Kandahar City.

In his letter Monday, he said it’s vital to secure the airport in Kabul and help citizens and allies evacuate. Among those allies is a translator who worked with Ortt and the National Guard in Kandahar and is now trying to leave the country safely.

State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt talks with WAMC's Ian Pickus about the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.