Articles,, Politics

We’re at War

In the America we live in, we don’t taste war daily. We don’t breathe in the aftermath of destruction or taste the wake of death. It’s easy to forget that American troops are officially fighting wars in seven different countries. Under the authority given by the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force to fight al-Qaeda related conflicts, we have operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger. We have been fighting in Afghanistan for the past 18 years.

In my lifetime, there has never been a time where the United States hasn’t been at war. I’ve grown up with the understanding that there is always a need for people to enlist in the army, and that there’s no foreseeable end. Why are we still in Afghanistan? It began with the attacks on 9/11, and with Bush’s response.

  •  On September 18, 2001, President George W. Bush signed the joint resolution to authorize the military to use force against those responsible.
  • By December 9, 2001, the Taliban regime collapses with the surrender of Kandahar. 

In March of 2002, things begin to get a little mixed. Operation Anaconda, with 2000 American troops and 1000 Afghani troops, launches against 800 al-Qaeda members. However, the Pentagon begins to shift our resources away from Afghanistan and towards Iraq, listing Saddam Hussein’s regime a chief threat.

2002The US military starts to establish a reconstruction model.Bush claims that disarming Iraq of its “weapons of mass destruction” is a new priority
2003Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield declares an end to “major combat”.NATO gets heavily involved.In March, Bush gives Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq and then attacked when he failed to respond.  After fully taking all the major strongholds of the regime, Bush declared “mission accomplished”.On December 13, 2003, Saddam Hussein is captured.
2004Osama Bin Laden releases video showing him taking responsibility on behalf of al-Qaeda for 9/11.In June of 2004, Saddam Hussein is turned over to Iraqi authorities to stand trial.
2005U.S forces are given access to Afghani military facilities.On October 19, Saddam Hussein goes on trial for killing 148 people in 1992.
2006NATO leaders agree to remove restrictions on the logistics of how force can be used.On November 8, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield resigns as a result of his leadership failures that allowed for the abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison. On December 30, Saddam Hussein is executed.
2007A Taliban commander is killed by combined US, Afghani, and NATO forces.American commanders arm Sunni Arab groups that promise fight militants related to al-Qaeda who have been their allies in the past.
2008General Stanley A. McChrystal orders an overhaul of US airstrikes.The Iraqi Parliament and the US ratify a pact that calls for American troops to pull out of major cities by 2009 and be fully gone by 2011.
2009On March 27, President Barack Obama commits 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Obama announces a new strategy involving increased aid to Pakistan.US Marines launch major offensive in southern Afghanistan. On December 1, Obama announces a major escalation of the mission, committing another 30,000 troops to the 68,000 already on the ground.The Iraqi people celebrate the withdrawal of American troops with parades and a national holiday.
2010General McChrystal is relieved of his position as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.NATO member countries sign an agreement to hand over full responsibility of Afghanistan to the Afghani forces by 2014.Obama declares an end to the seven-year combat mission in Iraq. Wikileaks makes information about civilian deaths, detainee abuse, and Iranian involvement available to the public.
2011On May 1, Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan. President Obama wants to begin the withdrawal of American troops from the area. Obama announces plans to remove 33,000 troops by the summer of 2012. October 7 marks the tenth anniversary of the war.Defense Secretary Leon E Panetta supports a plan that keeps 3,000-4000 American troops in Iraq a year after the deadline for their withdrawal. The United States formally ends its operations in Iraq on December 15.
2012The Taliban agree to move towards peace talks, but then rescind their statements after accusing Washington of going back on the prisoner swap.U.S. Secretary Leon Peretta announces a plan to end combat missions by mid-2013. American soldiers come under fire for disrespectful behavior and violence against civilians. Afghani President Hamid Karzai demands that foreign troops be confined to military bases.Iraqi Kurds halt oil exports.
2013US forces shift focus to military training and special ops-driven counterterrorism.The final report of the Special Inspector-General for Reconstruction in Iraq is released, showing that $10 billion was wasted.
2014President Obama announces plans to withdraw most US troops by 2016.Baghdad asks the US government for help. US forces return. The Iraq War has cost the US over $2 trillion. American-led intervention in the Iraqi civil war begins on June 15.
2015Three American contractors are killed at Hamid Karzai International Airport. President Obama announces that the number of troops will remain at 9800. Later, he announces that the number will remain 9800 throughout 2016.The US coordinates airstrikes with the Kurdish fighters and begins to plan to retake Mosul. American-led coalition launches first airstrikes on ISIL targets in the city.
2016On December 31, American troops withdraw from Afghanistan, leaving 8,400 troops in four garrisons.The US begins targeting Islamic State chemical weapons infrastructure with airstrikes and special forces raids. President Obama authorizes the sending of 600 more troops to Iraq.
2017The US drops its most powerful non-nuclear bomb on suspected militants. President Donald Trump presses ahead with an open-ended military commitment to fighting the “vacuum for terrorists”. He promises to lighten restrictions on combat. The Mosul massacre has the single largest death toll inflicted by a coalition airstrike since 2003. On December 9, it is reported that ISIL has lost all strategic territory in Iraq.
2018Trump deploys troops across rural Afghanistan. The Trump administration cuts off financial assistance for Pakistan.The US announces that it will reduce the number of its troops in Iraq. On October 4, an operation against ISIL is started by the Iraqi military with the aid of French and American forces.
2019In February, Taliban forces propose a plan where they stop international terrorist groups from operating in Afghanistan in return for the complete withdrawal of American troops. In September, President Trump breaks off peace talks.There is very little information. This picture was taken sometime in July. French and American soldiers are shown to support the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

The timeline breaks off suddenly, as close to the present day as it can get. There’s so much more that has happened, so many more lives that have been lost, so much more destruction. This is the price of war. Maybe this article hasn’t clarified anything for the reader at all. It’s entirely possible that you’re more confused now than you were before. After writing it, I personally have to admit that I still don’t fully understand why we’ve been at war for the past nineteen years. 

It’s entirely possible that that’s the point. 

Works Cited

“A Timeline of the U.S. War in Afghanistan.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations,

Cox, Matthew. “Army to Deploy 1,700 Paratroopers to Iraq.”,

Cox, Matthew. “Army to Deploy 1,700 Paratroopers to Iraq.”,

Taylor, Adam. “Do U.S. Troops Have a Future in Iraq?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 7 Feb. 2019,

ThinkProgress. “A TIMELINE OF THE IRAQ WAR.” ThinkProgress, 17 Mar. 2006,

“Timeline of Major Events in the Iraq War.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 31 Aug. 2010,

Watson, Ben, and Bradley Peniston. “US at War in 7 Countries – Including Niger; US Army Rebuilds Afghan Firebases; F-35s to India?; and Just a Bit More…” Defense One, 15 Mar. 2018,

Ayona Roychowdhury

Ayona Roychowdhury is a senior in high school. She is a dancer, and plays clarinet and guitar. As an active Girl Scout, Ayona has a deep interest in healthcare and holistic well-being. She is very involved at school as well, and is a drum major, SGA executive VP, robotics captain, Peer Helper, an Ambassador, and a Springboarder. Her future goals are centered around pursuing a career in the medical field.

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