11 years ago today, the United States first invaded Afghanistan, starting what would turn out to be America’s longest war and indeed one of the longest wars in modern history. That means we are now entering year number 12 of the war, meaning 11 straight years of NATO saying the war is on track, and 11 straight years of the war very much not being on track.
The Taliban issued a statement today claiming their own victory over the ongoing occupation, saying it was “an exemplary historical lesson of defeat” for the US. Despite this Taliban confidence, the US has agreed to keep troops in Afghanistan through at least 2024.
The planned portion of the latest year of the war centered around ending the US surge, and while officials insist the surge was a “success” the Taliban if anything grew considerably over the span of the escalation, as did violence nationwide.
But Year 11 will mostly be remembered for the unplanned embarrassments, such as the Kandahar massacre in March, and the dramatic increase in green-on-blue attacks nationwide.
What does Year 12 have in store? Many NATO nations are hoping to get the rest of their troops out of Afghanistan, selling the idea of a “transition” to Afghan control even as the Karzai government continues to struggle with the exact same problems of violence and corruption that have kept it in crisis for the last 11 years.