A ceremony marking the end of U.S and NATO’s war in Afghanistan was held at their military headquarters in Kabul. Despite this, the rebellion that started the war in 2001 is just as powerful and dangerous as it always was.
The event was held in a low-key manner due to the threat of Taliban attacks in Kabul, which has been faced with many suicide bombings and shooting over the last years. During the ceremony, General John Campbell, the commander of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) rolled and encased the green and white ISAF flag and revealed the flag of the new international mission entitled Resolute Support.
Campbell addressed an audience of Afghan and international military officers but also diplomats and journalists, stating that Resolute Support can be considered “the bedrock of an enduring partnership” between NATO and Afghanistan. He also showed gratitude towards the soldiers who have lost their lives in the fight against Afghan insurgents.
This marks the end of ISAF and the switch from U.S army’s leading role in the Afghan war to that of a supporting one. ISAF was formed after the US-led invasion following the September 11 attacks. It was the “umbrella” for the coalition” of circa 50 countries who came together to take down the Taliban regime and restore the country’s security.
The war ends with a death rate of 2,224 killed American soldiers out of a total of 3,500 troop deaths. The maximum number was reached in 2011 when the U.S President ordered 140,000 troops to search for the rebels in such strategically important regions as Helmand and Kandahar, the Taliban capital between 1996 and 2001.
Besides military actions, billions of dollars were spent on reestablishing Afghan schools, hospitals and roads, but also on promoting women’s rights.
As of Jan. 1, Jan 1, 13,500 soldiers, mostly American, will provide training and support for the Afghan army.
Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan’s president since September, signed bilateral security agreements, permitting NATO and U.S troops continuous military presence.
Talibans consider the end of ISAF an opportunity to increase attacks and take down the present Afghan government. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid considers that the troops are actually fleeing from the country while “keeping some forces here to reach their vicious aims.”
U.S commanders consider that the Afghan army can withstand future Taliban attacks. There are some concerns as to the possibility of this ending the way it did in Iraq where the American-trained army lost dramatically against jihadist fighters.
Air support will still be provided by the U.S army, with additional extended operations in case of rapid Taliban advances.
Image Source: The iPinions Journal