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Afghanistan: A Decade And A Half Later, Conflict Still Going

February 5, 2016

It’s the war every American may know of, but is rarely talked about. The War in Afghanistan is quite possibly the most highlighted example of the United States’ War on Terror. However, many Americans still don’t understand why conflict exists in the distant Central Asian nation.

The invasion of Afghanistan began October 7th, 2001. It wasn’t a month after September 11th, and United States intelligence discovered that the 250,000 square mile mountainous country harbored the mastermind behind al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. The Islamic extremist government of Afghanistan, known as the Taliban, refused to extradite Osama, believing that there was insufficient evidence to support his connection to the World Trade Center attacks. Following through on the United States policy to never negotiate with terrorists, the invasion began. American and allied troops, led and informed by the CIA, stormed the country.

The invasion was generally successful: the Taliban were outmatched, and were taken out of power by December. Osama, however, had escaped into neighboring Pakistan. Western armies remained in the country, aiding in the construction of a new republic… From here, things began to go downhill.

Remaining Taliban forces formed a surprisingly effective guerilla insurgency against the American troops. While outnumbered and outgunned, the Jihadists managed to prolong the war. Funded by the nation’s plentiful opium supply, the Taliban were clearly not going to be defeated any time soon. Meanwhile, the United States began to shift attention toward elsewhere in the world.

Now in 2016, the war in Afghanistan wages all over again. Since Barack Obama took office, the United States has carefully and slowly removed soldiers from the war-torn country. Obama had strived for there to be absolutely no (save for a small party to defend the United States embassy) American soldiers left in Afghanistan by the end of his second term. However, the Taliban has been back on the offensive. While trained and armed by superior Western militaries, lack of discipline proves to cripple the Afghan National Army. Furthermore, what public opinion of the war remains continues to fall. In the October of last year, a United States airstrike accidentally bombed a Doctors without Borders hospital, mistaking it for a Taliban base.

United States Lieutenant Army General John Nicholson has recently been approved by the Senate to succeed General Cambell in Afghanistan operations. Nicholson’s report states that the Taliban are at their strongest since 2001, and requests that the army maintain the present 9,800 soldiers in the capital city of Kabul. President Obama complied, and combat operations have resumed indefinitely. While Lt. General Nicholson’s plan for long-term commitment is criticized as expensive and time-consuming (some critics predict troops stationed in Afghanistan for decades), the General assures the nation that “Afghanistan is not a lost cause.”

Eli Denton
Contributing Writer

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