Seventeen years ago, the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan began as a mission to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s leadership. But later the mission evolved and began to focus on fighting the Taliban. This war is not just the longest, but unique because of the clandestine operations inside Pakistan and other countries around the world to hunt, capture or kill al-Qaeda’s leadership. After seventeen years of fighting and tens of billions of dollars later U.S.-led forces continue to fight Taliban. Over the years the Taliban has shown its ability to carry out attacks on Afghan and civilian targets.
The war in Afghanistan and Iraq have not just cost the United States billions of dollars. Since Operation Enduring Freedom began there have been 3,458 coalition deaths in Afghanistan. In the latest reports as of, July 27, 2018, there have been 2,372 U.S. U.S. military deaths in the War in Afghanistan, in which 1,856 casualties have been a result of hostile action. An estimated 20,320 American service members have also been wounded in action. It is also estimated that approximately 1,720 U.S. civilian contractor have been killed in Afghanistan since the war began.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have pushed the U.S. military to its limit; but it has continued to be committed to the mission of stopping the Taliban and other terrorist organization around the world. The duration of the war has also meant repeated deployments for many U.S. troops, leading to a significant psychological impact on many.
Some U.S. troops have had, and will probably have, several deployments before their enlistments end. The Atlantic news organization reported that one of the recent American causalities in Afghanistan was on his seventh combat deployment. The high numbers of deployment in some U.S. military units has become routine. As the Afghanistan war continues, it is becoming more likely that young men and women that were not even born when the United States was attacked on 9/11, will serve in a theater of war.
In a recent visit to Afghanistan, SECDEF James Mattis, stated the US and Afghan government has an open line of communication with the Taliban and that there is now some framework on negotiations to try and end the longest war in American history.
According to the Atlantic news organization General John Nicholson, who until recently headed the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, stated in a news conference “it’s time for this war in Afghanistan to end,” as he urged the Taliban to enter into peace talks, adding: “Until you are willing to begin talking, we will keep fighting.” Since the beginning of the war, the United States promised the Afghan people that the United States will stay in the fight until there is a sustainable peace. The Trump administration South Asia strategy guided the current U.S. policy in Afghanistan. As previously reported by several media groups, part of the strategy calls for “bombing the Taliban while pushing the militant group to talk with the Afghan government, and simultaneously exerting pressure on Pakistan, which is believed to have some influence over the Taliban.”
The United States government has also stated several times that it will remain in Afghanistan as long as it is needed to help secure the country. This means that the Afghan government has to have complete control of all of its territories. According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, this might take longer than expected since the Afghan government only controls about 65 percent of the country’s districts.
It is still unclear when the war in Afghanistan will end, but the dedication and commitment of U.S. troops and the American people has not changed. American will continue to fight the War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or any other country that might posse a threat to the safety and security of the United States and the American people.