US troops invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, less than a month after the 9/11 terror attacks in New York and Washington. What seemed like a quick victory over the Taliban regime turned into a bloody, endless guerrilla war that continues to this day....
Fifteen years after the invasion, there are fewer than 9,000 US troops in Afghanistan, down from the 100,000 peak in 2011. They are part of “Operation Freedom’s Sentinel,” and the Pentagon insists they are there in a solely “advise and assist” role to the Afghan military, rather than fighting the Taliban or Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). Just this week, however, Staff Sergeant Adam S. Thomas, 31, was killed in Nangarhar Province, reportedly by an improvised bomb. He was the third US soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2016.
Opium cultivation, banned under the strict Taliban interpretation of Islam, has made a roaring comeback during the war.
Over 90% of the world's heroin is produced in "liberated" Afghanistan.
Casualties of War
Over 4,000 coalition soldiers and 15,000 Afghan troops have died over the course of the Operation Enduring Freedom. US casualties over those 4,830 days were 2,356 killed and 19,950 wounded. Taliban casualties have been estimated at between 25,000 and 40,000.
Since then, in Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the US has suffered 24 killed and 124 wounded, according to the Pentagon. NATO allies lost another seven people.
Estimates of civilian deaths have ranged from 31,000 (Watson Institute for International Studies) to as high as 170,000 (“Body Count”, by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War).
By way of comparison, the Soviet-Afghan war of 1979-89 resulted in 14,000 Soviet deaths, 75-90,000 mujahideen killed, and civilian casualties estimated at between 850,000 and 2 million.