(Brief) history of War in Afghanistan

Audrey Miller, Staff Writer

As a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States declared war on Afghanistan, marking the beginning of a two decade long battle, and a record for the longest war in American history.

The Taliban, an extremist Islamic group, was in control of Afghanistan when the 9/11 attacks took place, killing more than 2,700 people. Investigators identified Osama bin Laden, a leader of the Islamic militant group al Qaeda, leading the attack. The Taliban were believed to be sheltering bin Laden in Afghanistan following the events that took place.

On October 7, 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom was launched, a campaign brought by U.S. and British forces that led airstrikes in an attempt to target al Qaeda and the Taliban. This resulted in an official end to Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

In a speech given on April 17, 2002,  President George W. Bush requested a Marshall Plan to help reconstruct Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai, the Popalzai Durrani tribe’s leader, was appointed to help lead the transitional government. During this time, 8,000 American troops remained in Afghanistan to help oversee the safety of the country. The U.S military then turned their focus to Iraq. 

October 9, 2004 was the start of Afghanistan’s first democratic elections, in which Karzai served as president for two terms. The main goal was to keep the peace, however, with the U.S’s attention in Iraq, the Taliban began to assemble once again and attacks increased.

After the 2008 election, President Barack Obama agreed to send an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, reaching a top peak of 110,000 soldiers in 2011. Shortly after, U.S. Navy SEALs located and killed bin Laden.

Following bin Laden’s death, many people urged for an end to the war. Obama announced that by summer 2012, 33,000 troops would be withdrawn, and all troops by 2014. By 2014, a new timeline was set for troops to be removed, which would leave 9,800 soldiers to remain to train forces.

In 2015, the Taliban attacks began to grow more frequent. With the approval of President Donald Trump, on April 13, 2017 the United States dropped its most powerful bomb on an ISIS cave.

The United States began to enter peace talks with the Taliban, and in 2019 a deal was reached that the U.S. would withdraw its troops in 14 months if the Taliban agreed to not harbor terrorist groups. Trump called off this deal in September after a Taliban attack that left 12 people dead.

Still, on February 29, 2020, the United States and Taliban signed a peace agreement, and Trump reported a plan to reduce troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 by January 15, 2021.

In April 2021, President Joe Biden announced a deadline of September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the U.S. would withdraw fully from Afghanistan. 

August 30, 2021, saw the final American troops exiting Afghanistan.

Over 3,500 allied soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, including over 2,000 American service members and more than 50,000 civilians were killed.