The war in Afghanistan began in 2001 and has cost the U.S. $978 billion. Beginning in 2005, violence climbed as the Taliban reasserted its presence with new tactics modeled on those being used by insurgents in Iraq. When ISAF did begin to venture beyond Kabul, its efforts were hampered by the “caveats” of its component countries—restrictions that kept all but a handful of the militaries from actively engaging in the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The U.S. War in Afghanistan. The forces worked with U.S. assistance, but they defied U.S. wishes when, on November 13, they marched into Kabul as the Taliban retreated without a fight. George W. Bush coalesced around a strategy of first ousting the Taliban from Afghanistan and dismantling al-Qaeda, though others contemplated actions in Iraq, including long-standing plans for toppling Pres. The Soviet Union intervened in support of the Afghan communist government in its conflict with anti-communist Muslim guerrillas during the Afghan War (1978–92) and remained in Afghanistan until mid-February 1989. Between January 2005 and August 2006, Afghanistan endured 64 suicide attacks—a tactic that had been virtually unknown in the country’s history before then. In late October, Northern Alliance forces began to overtake a series of towns formerly held by the Taliban. The Taliban’s resurgence corresponded with a rise in anti-American and anti-Western sentiment among Afghans. That same year, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was welcomed to Afghanistan (having been expelled from Sudan) and established his organization’s headquarters there. The longest conflict in American history is currently in a stalemate, with thousands of U.S. soldiers still bolstering the Afghan government and trying to weaken the Taliban's grip on the country. Afghanistan War, international conflict in Afghanistan beginning in 2001 that was triggered by the September 11 attacks and consisted of three phases. This long war … 1  The George W. Bush administration launched the war in Afghanistan and the War on Terror in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda. In May 2006 a U.S. military vehicle crashed and killed several Afghans, an event that sparked violent anti-American riots in Kabul—the worst since the war began. U.S. special operations forces conducting a mounted combat patrol in search of Taliban fighters in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 2007. Western-backed campaigns to eliminate poppy cultivation or to encourage farmers to grow other crops had little discernible impact; Afghanistan soon became the supplier of over 90 percent of the world’s opium. Early in the war in Afghanistan, a taxi driver was hired to drive some other Afghans across ​the country when the taxi was stopped by U.S. forces interested in the passengers. He survived several assassination attempts—including a September 2004 rocket attack that nearly struck a helicopter he was riding in—and security concerns kept him largely confined to the presidential palace in Kabul. Among those drawn to Afghanistan were a wealthy, ambitious, and pious young Saudi named Osama bin Laden and the head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization, Ayman Al Zawahiri. Read on to understand how the war began in, but not against, Afghanistan in 2001, and who the actors are now. Critics later questioned why the U.S. military had allowed Afghan forces to lead the assault on the cave complex at Tora Bora rather than doing it themselves. How Did US Foreign Policy Change After 9/11? This long war must end. Because the Taliban's insurgency is so well financed, the Afghan government must spend enormous sums on war, too. Omar and his top Taliban lieutenants settled in and around the Pakistani city of Quetta, in the remote southwestern province of Balochistān. Another source of money was Afghanistan’s resurgent opium industry. On the same day, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, President Bush announced that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” At that time, there were 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It was also during this period that bin Laden's ideology and goals, and the role of jihad within them, evolved. The 2004 constitution provided Afghanistan with a powerful central government and weak regional and local authorities—a structure that was in opposition to the country’s long-standing traditions. The Soviets intervened following the overthrow of a pro-communist leader. We had … The war in Afghanistan spanned the tenures of three prime ministers, and cost the lives of 453 British service personnel and thousands of Afghans. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. An intensive manhunt for Omar, bin Laden, and al-Qaeda deputy chief Ayman al-Zawahiri was undertaken. [9] British forces invaded Afghanistan alongside the United States in October 2001. And there is the devastating cost paid by the people of Afghanistan: Of the 147,000 killed in the war since 2001, more than 38,000 have been civilians. Top insurgent leaders remained at large, many of them in the tribal regions of Pakistan that adjoin Afghanistan. The war took the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers and wounded more than 1,800 others. The plot had been hatched by al-Qaeda, and some of the 19 hijackers had trained in Afghanistan. Karzai’s government was beset by corruption, and efforts to build a national army and a police force were troubled from the start by inadequate international support and ethnic differences between Afghans. In 2014, combat missions formally ended with the signing of a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan. The third phase, a turn to classic counterinsurgency doctrine, began in 2008 and accelerated with U.S. Pres. The mujahideen were politically fragmented, however, and in 1994 armed conflict escalated. Amy Zalman, Ph.D., is a global security expert and the CEO of Prescient, a management consulting firm that helps organizational leaders anticipate and manage critical global changes. In the Soviets’ absence, the mujahideen ousted Afghanistan’s Soviet-backed government and established a transitional government. There, they cultivated Arab recruits to fight with the Afghan mujahideen. In order to forestall that possibility, the United States began funding insurgent forces to oppose the Soviets, The U.S.-funded Afghan insurgents were called mujahideen, an Arabic word that means "strugglers" or "strivers." The first democratic Afghan elections since the fall of the Taliban were held on October 9, 2004, with approximately 80 percent of registered voters turning out to give Karzai a full five-year term as president. Whereas early in the war the Taliban had focused on battling U.S. and NATO forces in open combat—a strategy that largely failed to inflict significant damage—their adoption of the use of suicide bombings and buried bombs, known as IEDs (improvised explosive devices), began to cause heavy casualties. International pressure had forced the Taliban to curb poppy cultivation during their final year in power, but after their removal in 2001 the opium industry made a comeback, with revenues in some areas of the country benefiting the insurgency. On May 1, 2003, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced an end to “major combat” in Afghanistan. (Indeed, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry made this criticism repeatedly during the 2004 general election campaign.) Pakistani officials in turn denounced the strikes in public but privately approved of them as long as civilian casualties were limited. The strategy came coupled with a timetable for the withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan; beginning in 2011, security responsibilities would be gradually handed over to the Afghan military and police. With the ouster of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the international focus shifted to reconstruction and nation-building efforts in Afghanistan. Seven Canadian civilians were also killed — a diplomat, four aid workers, a government contractor and a journalist. At that time, the Soviet Union and the United States were engaged in the Cold War, a global competition for the fealty of other nations. Later that year NATO took command of the war across the country; American officials said that the United States would play a lesser role and that the face of the war would become increasingly international. That choice was directed by the Pentagon, which insisted on a “light footprint” out of concern that Afghanistan would become a drag on U.S. resources as attention shifted to Iraq (see Iraq War). Afghanistan had experienced several coups since 1973 when the Afghan monarchy was overthrown by Daud Khan, who was sympathetic to Soviet overtures. The larger force was used to implement a strategy of protecting the population from Taliban attacks and supporting efforts to reintegrate insurgents into Afghan society. In April 2002 Bush announced a “Marshall Plan” for Afghanistan in a speech at the Virginia Military Institute, promising substantial financial assistance. More than anywhere else, Kunduz is a symbol of the Bundeswehr’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Bush demanded that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar “deliver to [the] United States authorities all the leaders of al-Qaeda who hide in your land,” and when Omar refused, U.S. officials began implementing a plan for war. George W. Bush with sailors aboard the USS. But the insurgent Taliban emerged in 2006 in force and begun using suicide tactics copied from jihadist groups elsewhere in the region. Read on to understand how the war began in, but not against, Afghanistan in 2001, and who the actors are now. Combat footage of U.S. Marines and U.S. Army Soldiers in Afghanistan. The war has also taken a tremendous toll on citizens of the war-torn nation. As United States troops enter the 20th year in the war … 1980s: Osama bin Laden Recruits Arabs for Jihad in Afghanistan, 1996: Taliban Take Over Kabul, and End Mujahideen Rule, 2001: U.S. Airstrikes Topple Taliban Government, But Not Taliban Insurgency, American Involvement in Wars From Colonial Times to the Present, The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, 1979 - 1989, Profile of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, Bin Laden's Declaration of War on the United States, 1996. Despite vast powers under the constitution, Karzai was widely regarded as a weak leader who grew increasingly isolated as the war progressed. Afghanistan War, international conflict in Afghanistan beginning in 2001 that was triggered by the September 11 attacks and consisted of three phases. Their extremely severe laws based on retrograde interpretations of the Quran, and a disregard for human rights, were repugnant to the world community. At 1 pm on the afternoon of the 7th, President Bush addressed the United States and the world: The Taliban were toppled shortly thereafter, and a government headed by Hamid Karzai installed. The longest war in American history has gone on for more than 18 years. Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images. Al-Qaeda subsequently reestablished its base of operations in the tribal areas that form Pakistan’s northwest border with Afghanistan. A peace accord would free up funds for basic services, economic development and more. Tens of thousands of Afghans are thought to have died since the U.S. helped topple the Taliban in 2001. In late December 1979, after several months of evident military preparation, they invaded Afghanistan. The Taliban emerged and in 1996 seized Kabul. The United States relied primarily on the Northern Alliance, which had just lost Massoud but had regrouped under other commanders, including Tajik leader Mohammed Fahim and Abdul Rashid Dostum, an Uzbek. Omissions? This chaos, and the exhaustion of the Afghans, permitted the Taliban to gain power. On October 7, 2001, military strikes against Afghanistan were launched by the United States and an international coalition that included Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany, and France. Initially, the war appeared to have been won with relative ease. The U.S. and its NATO-led allies announced the official conclusion of their combat mission in Afghanistan … However, with Taliban forces again gaining power, by 2016 Obama recommited troops to remain in the country. Between 2001 and 2009, just over $38 billion in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan was appropriated by the U.S. Congress. The attack was military retaliation for the September 11, 2001 attacks by Al Qaeda on American targets. By spring 2010 more than 1,000 U.S. troops had been killed in Afghanistan, while the British troops suffered some 300 deaths and the Canadians some 150. This, loosely, was the beginning of the network of roving jihadists that would become Al Qaeda later. U.S. Special Forces working with members of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, November 12, 2001. The Americans also teamed with anti-Taliban Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan, including a little-known tribal leader named Hamid Karzai. These selections were made by a war movie expert and Afghanistan combat veteran who has lived through it. "The Kill Team" is a documentary about a kill team that existed within a small group of infantry soldiers in Afghanistan. The Taliban insurgency remains resilient nearly two decades after U.S.-led forces toppled its regime in what led to the United States’ longest war. The operation also marked the entrance of other countries’ troops into the war: special operations forces from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, and Norway participated. The joint U.S. and British invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001 was preceded by over two decades of war in Afghanistan (see Afghan War). With behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the United States, Karzai was selected to lead the country on an interim basis. Saddam Hussein. The United States was, thus, deeply interested in whether the Soviet Union would succeed in establishing a communist government loyal to Moscow in Afghanistan. Afghan policemen destroying opium poppies during an eradication sweep in Orūzgān province, 2007. At least 21 pro-government forces and eight civilians have been killed in Afghanistan so far this month. One of the final major battles of the first phase of the war came in March 2002 with Operation Anaconda in the eastern province of Paktia, which involved U.S. and Afghan forces fighting some 800 al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. In the aftermath of the attacks, the administration of U.S. Pres. The attacks of September 11, 2001 surprised many Americans; the decision a month later to wage a war in Afghanistan, to end the ability of the government to offer safe haven to Al Qaeda, may have seemed equally surprising. In 2003 NATO deployed troops to Afghanistan for a peace-keeping mission. Tensions remained and violence escalated, with 2008 the most deadly year since the invasion in 2001. For commanders on the ground in Afghanistan, however, it was apparent that the Taliban intended to escalate its campaign, launching more frequent attacks and intensifying its fund-raising from wealthy individuals and groups in the Persian Gulf. At its peak in 2009, there were around 100,000 Americans in Afghanistan, whose purpose was to weaken the Taliban and to help prop up Afghan institutions. 01. of 09. The war in Afghanistan will end, as the Vietnam War ended: in shame and abandonment. U.S. Army soldiers on security duty in Paktīkā province, Afghanistan, 2010. The Kill Team (2013) The Kill Team. Afghanistan War, 1978–92, conflict between anti-Communist Muslim Afghan guerrillas (mujahidin) and Afghan government and Soviet forces. The hijacking and crashing of four U.S. jetliners on September 11, 2001, brought instant attention to Afghanistan. These fighters won extensive covert backing from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States and were joined in their fight by foreign volunteers (who soon formed a network, known as al-Qaeda, to coordinate their efforts). It had been besieged by a force led by Karzai that moved in from the north and one commanded by Gul Agha Sherzai that advanced from the south; both operated with heavy assistance from the United States. Parliamentary elections were staged a year later, with dozens of women claiming seats set aside for them to ensure gender diversity. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. There were initial claims that the brief war had been successful. A Soviet armoured vehicle rolling past a group of civilians during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, December 1979. The September 11 attacks and the U.S.-British invasion, https://www.britannica.com/event/Afghanistan-War, Council on Foreign Relations - U.S. War in Afghanistan, The Canadian Encyclopedia - War in Afghanistan. At War Afghan War Casualty Report: December 2020. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? During much of the war he, and Ayman Al Zawahiri, the Egyptian head of Islamic Jihad, an Egyptian group, lived in neighboring Pakistan. But the conflict in Afghanistan continues to rage, even after the recent launch of a fragile peace process between the Afghan state and the Taliban. Those feelings were nurtured by the sluggish pace of reconstruction, allegations of prisoner abuse at U.S. detention facilities, widespread corruption in the Afghan government, and civilian casualties caused by U.S. and NATO bombings. The first CIA team to enter Afghanistan was code-named "Jawbreaker." American soldiers of the 2/3 Field Artillery, a group known as the "Gunners," tell of their experiences in Baghdad during the Iraq War. Afghanistan still dealing with human cost of conflict as Australia debates war crimes ABC Online 18:04 15-Dec-20 The Taliban have grown megarich since the US invasion in 2001. Kandahar, the largest city in southern Afghanistan and the Taliban’s spiritual home, fell on December 6, marking the end of Taliban power. By the time the U.S. and NATO combat mission formally ended in December 2014, the 13-year Afghanistan War had become the longest war ever fought by the United States. According to an investigation by the Globe and Mail, more th… It was on the ground and operating in Afghanistan just 15 days after the 2001 attacks, thus technically beginning the Afghanistan War. The idea that the 9/11 attacks have their roots in the Soviet-Afghan war comes from bin Laden's role in it. In early 2007, Mullah Obaidullah Akhund—the Taliban’s number three leader—was captured in Pakistan, and months later Mullah Dadullah—the Taliban’s top military commander—was killed in fighting with U.S. forces. Eventually, the war in Afghanistan turned into a black hole that absorbed copious amounts of Soviet military, economic, and human resources. What was accomplished after 13 years of conflict, which included eight years of heavy fighting in Helmand, still remains open to debate. The word has its origins in Islam and is related to the word jihad, but in the context of the Afghan war, it may be best understood as referring to "resistance.". The attack followed several weeks of a diplomatic effort to have al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, handed over by the Taliban government. Pres. More than half the money went to training and equipping Afghan security forces, and the remainder represented a fraction of the amount that experts said would be required to develop a country that had consistently ranked near the bottom of global human development indices. U.S. officials hoped that by partnering with the Afghans they could avoid deploying a large force to Afghanistan. Canada spent an estimated $18-billion fighting in Afghanistan and trying to reconstruct the country. The United States consistently represented the largest foreign force in Afghanistan, and it bore the heaviest losses. Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, invasion of Afghanistan in late December 1979 by troops from the Soviet Union. The new approach largely failed to achieve its aims. Insurgent attacks and civilian casualties remained stubbornly high, while many of the Afghan military and police units taking over security duties appeared to be ill-prepared to hold off the Taliban. The attacks of September 11, 2001 surprised many Americans; the decision a month later to wage a war in Afghanistan, to end the ability of the government to offer safe haven to Al Qaeda, may have seemed equally surprising. Pentagon officials were especially concerned that the United States not be drawn into a protracted occupation of Afghanistan, as had occurred with the Soviets more than two decades prior. Their war against each other devastated Kabul: tens of thousands of civilians lost their lives, and infrastructure was destroyed by rocket fire. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Deputy chief Ayman al-Zawahiri was undertaken a Kill Team Burhanuddin Rabbani British forces invaded Afghanistan alongside the States. 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