How The Us Ends Its 20-Year Afghanistan War: The Cultural, Strategic, And Political Reasons Behind America’s Longest Armed Conflict
The American war in Afghanistan was an in-depth and costly conflict that spanned over the course of two decades.
Starting with the US invasion in late August 2021 and culminating with the final withdrawal of troops, this book serves as an analysis of what exactly happened during those twenty years.
This book provides a comprehensive look at how America’s armed forces arrived at its humbling exit, covering all the cultural, strategic, and political aspects involved.
It examines how Kandahar was a strategic province, why Sufi’s fought against the Taliban, and how insurgent fighters outlasted a global empire.
You will also gain insight into topics such as why stability operations proved a challenge for commanders, details on controversial military engagements like Operation Enduring Freedom’s Red Team counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan, and more.
In sum, this book provides a thorough analysis into one of the most expensive conflicts in American history!
The Afghanistan War: A Dark Chapter In A Long And Complex History
The Afghanistan War is the latest dark chapter in a long, complex history of conflict and struggle in Afghanistan.
From the fall of 2001 to the summer of 2021, the United States military maintained a presence in the nation of Afghanistan despite being met with resistance from various forces.
Spanning four presidential administrations, this lengthy occupation resulted in tragedy for millions of Afghan lives, violence and destruction inflicted on the country’s already fractured civil war, and a costly expenditure for US taxpayers.
It’s important to understand Afghanistan’s own unique context before we can assess the US efforts there.
It is a landlocked nation geographically located at an important crossroads between Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
The landscape ranges from steep rocky mountains and dry deserts to bustling cities such as Herat and Kabul – which serves as its capital – and its population is largely rural with more than 33 million people speaking several different languages.
Different ethnic groups make up portions of this population too including Pashtuns who account for 40%, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and Nuristanis all living together yet often divided.
Having become unified under one government in 1747 led by Ahmad Shah Durrani, they had to fend off multiple foreign invasions over ensuing years especially during Great Britain’s three attempts at colonizing followded by that of Soviet Union’s decade-long invasion starting in 1978– both of which ended in failure ultimately leading to a power vacuum that would eventually be filled by Taliban rule beginning 1994 through strict Islamic laws among other reforms.
At present though, it remains difficult to summarize or state conclusively what was accomplished through two decades-long of US presence–with several hopes raised yet ultimately not fulfilled resulting largely in disappointment only proving further how complicated matters stand currently.
After all, The Afghanistan War is simply just another part that drives home what has been true since many moons ago: there are no easy or simple answers when it comes to navigating such turbulent histories– neither here nor abroad.
The Us Quickly Took Over Afghanistan But Failed In Its Plan For Long-Term Stability
When the United States launched its military operation in Afghanistan, it succeeded quickly but then gradually failed.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, American intelligence identified al-Qa‘eda as the perpetrators and quickly demanded that the Taliban turn over bin Laden and all other al-Qa‘eda operatives.
When negotiations broke down, the US started airstrikes and ground operations with the Northern Alliance to disrupt al-Qa‘eda and remove the Taliban from power.
The US military had an overwhelming advantage and within weeks northern provinces fell and by November 13th, Kabul had been forced out of power.
Mullah Omar was finally defeated by forces led by Hamid Karzai, an American-backed leader who was installed as interim president of Afghanistan.
Though there were attempts to reconstruct Afghan society through Karzai and Bush’s collaboration, it would take much longer than initially expected due to difficulties inherent to successfully unifying competing factions in Afghanistan.
With a small military presence of 5,000 troops, progress proved to be difficult and ultimately unsuccessful for achieving long term success in stabilizing Afghanistan according to US interests.
The Taliban Gained Popular Support By Utilizing Effective Governance And Meeting Local Needs
In the early 2000s, tensions were rising in Afghanistan as the Taliban retained widespread popularity and began training fighters, with funding coming from outposts in Pakistan.
Furthermore, US forces executing botched operations killed civilians including 54 in a wedding party, eroding support for their presence.
In 2006, Mullah Dadullah launched an insurgent militia and began his offensive against the Karzai government– resulting in successful battles in Kandahar and Helmand and control over a large portion of those regions.
Partially due to poor planning by the Bush administration, who focused on Iraq while Afghan forces were left unsupported, the Taliban had gained a foothold.
This successfully allowed them to form a new base of support through their efforts of governing those regions.
This included building infrastructure, settling tribal disputes and even paying salaries to its officials and militias– proving more effective in meeting local needs than any other occupying power.
The successes achieved during this counter-offensive would spur further resistance as well as give them control over the region’s illegal poppy trade – firmly establishing themselves as a real political force throughout Afghanistan.
The Eastern Front Of The Afghan War Was A Quagmire Of Rugged Landscapes And Complex Social Dynamics, Further Hampering Us Forces
The eastern front of the Afghan War was notoriously difficult for coalition forces.
The provinces along the Pakistani border are dominated by steep, rocky mountains and densely forested valleys, making it a rough and hostile environment for troops.
This region is also home to a wide variety of ethnic groups which operated independently of the Taliban and were especially hostile to the Pashto majority in Kabul.
Under US forces, Operation Mountain Lion carried out operations against the Taliban as well as other antagonistic forces such as contingents from the Pakistani Taliban, surviving al-Qa‘eda fighters, and Hezb Islami.
These engagements were often taxing on troops due to lack of air support and limited provisions.
In July 13 2008, a Nuristani resistance brigade ambushed government forces outside Wanat, lead to 30 casualties before air support drove the assailants back into the mountains – one testament to this drawn-out conflict.
Consequently, this extended combat heavily hampered US forces in their efforts throughout Afghanistan; small victories like that at Wanat could not offset their growing losses throughout the region.
By 2008 enough attention had been given that Mike Mullen commented before Congress “I’m not sure we’re winning.”
Was The Surge A Success? It Halt The Taliban’S Advance Temporarily, But At High Cost
In February of 2009, President Obama committed to a plan known as the Surge in an effort to counteract Taliban advances and aid the Afghans in their fight against the insurgency.
The goal of this strategy was to deploy additional forces, backed by new counter-insurgency tactics that had been utilized in Iraq, to stabilize Afghanistan long enough for the government to take back full control within two years.
Though General Stanley McChrystal successfully initiated 12,000 marines into southern Helmand province and Operation Hamkari secured Kandahar by fall 2012, these efforts ultimately were just a temporary reprieve from advancing Taliban forces.
By the end of 2012, negotiations between US and Taliban officials began; It appeared that US forces had won only a temporary victory over the insurgency.
The Surge did change course of the war in positive ways while it was implemented however; Had it not been deployed when it was, the consequences could have been much more devastating for Afghanistan’s citizens and infrastructure.
It provided a window of relief from conflict though it came with a heavy cost – both economically and in terms of lives lost.
In the end, this strategy altered the course of war for only a short time; That is why President Obama’s decision must be viewed cautiously as its legacy continued long after he left office.
Afghanistan’s Andar Uprising: A Local Resistance Movement That Weakened The Taliban But Failed To Strengthen Central Governance
In 2012, local uprisings began to form in areas that were under Taliban control.
One example is the Andar independent militia from Ghazni Province in southwestern Kabul; they rebelled against the heavy-handed rule of the Taliban and ultimately routed them with no help from American or Afghan forces.
This symbolic win for autonomy caused other communities to take up arms and resist Taliban dominance.
These small uprisings reduced support for the Taliban by providing a model for victory but lacked organization on a larger scale.
There was not enough unity among these rebellions to create an effective opposition to the Taliban that could have challenged them nationally.
Without cohesive leadership, the resistance movement found itself unable to fully unite behind a unified central government—the Karzai administration’s legitimacy suffered as it struggled to deliver basic services and as its top officers used their positions for personal gain.
The 2014 elections also revealed how divided Afghanistan remained along tribal lines, leading to a power-sharing agreement between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani instead of one clear winner.
War In Afghanistan Underscores The Need For International Support
It was clear that the War in Afghanistan was heading towards an uncertain future.
With the Obama Administration’s continuous withdrawal of US military and financial support, coupled with the internal strife between President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, it became obvious that a complete state collapse could be on its way.
What’s worse, with no real end in sight to all this, the dwindling support posed a major threat to the already weak Afghan state.
This was saddened further by Washington’s reluctance to completely withdraw all troops from Afghanistan due to political considerations.
They were fearful of appearing ‘weak’ on terrorism especially with the emergence of ISIS at the time – so Obama kept around 10,000 US soldiers instead located mostly on base and told them to only take part in airstrikes if absolutely necessary.
This minimal level of assistance inevitably left the Afghan military at a huge disadvantage against Taliban assaults which continued occurring all throughout 2015 under their new leader Akhtar Mansour.
Most worryingly of all though was waning morale among local soldiers fighting for their country – often lacking any real motivation since everyday life hadn’t improved for many Afghans since initial invasion back in 2001, 1,000 of them even deserted Kunduz City alone when push came to shove demonstrating just how significant wavering support had become as a whole towards them.
It’s this lack of total commitment that ultimately resulted in conditions much worst than before during war efforts and doomed Afghanistan’s already frail state in its entirety.
Under Donald Trump, Us Makes Controversial Exit From Afghanistan After Unsteady Leadership And Escalated Violence
When Donald Trump assumed office, he immediately began questions the decisions and strategies of those in charge of Afghanistan operations.
He was displeased with the course the US was on, its losing control and having this reflect poorly on himself.
Despite his often impassioned rants, he did not offer much in terms of strategic direction or a concrete plan to fix the situation.
Though President Trump favored a complete withdrawal initially, with the input of James Mattis and others he eventually shifted positions to commit further resources including 4,000 additional troops and other forces as well as stepped-up diplomatic actions.
Additionally, he pushed against Pakistan for not doing enough to combat Taliban within its borders.
Priority was placed on crushing Islamic State as they had gained a strong foothold in Afghanistan and were perpetrating more extreme violence than even that linked with traditional Taliban groups.
This included increased aerial bombardments from US forces culminating with one high-profile 11-ton “mother of all bombs” attack.
Despite these intensifying tactics, however, it became clear nothing would be accomplished without President Trump ultimately relenting by entering into peace talks which resulted in what is known now as The Doha Agreement – an agreement between the US and Taliban parties which held that America must withdraw within 14 months in exchange for a promise to not carry out terrorist attacks upon the US by Taliban participants.
Sadly, due largely in part to missed deadlines resulting from President Trump’s administration, full retreat from Afghanistan did not occur until August 2021 under President Joe Biden’s watch.
The American War in Afghanistan can be summed up in one key point: it was a long and ultimately unsuccessful engagement by the United States.
It began as a mission to disrupt and eliminate al-Qa’eda, but then transformed into an over two decades long quagmire.
Unprepared to take on such a complicated region and its cultural complexity, the US struggled to implement and maintain a centralised state.
Whereas, the Taliban remained committed to their cause, which resulted in the eventual exit of America from the war-torn country.