News / Asia

    US, NATO Mark End of Afghanistan Mission

    US, NATO War in Afghanistan Formally Overi
    Michael Bowman
    December 28, 2014 9:31 PM
    This week marks the beginning of a new chapter between Washington and Kabul, as a 13-year war waged by U.S. and NATO forces has ended in Afghanistan. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
    Watch related video by VOA's Michael Bowman
    Ayaz Gul

    The NATO-led military alliance in Afghanistan formally ended its 13-year-long combat mission, leaving a relatively under-trained Afghan national security force to fight the deadly Taliban insurgency largely on its own. 

    A special ceremony was organized at the Kabul headquarters of the coalition Sunday to mark the conclusion of operations by the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF.

    The commander of the International Security Assistance Force, U.S. Army General John Campbell, said the U.S. and NATO are not abandoning Kabul.

    "Our new resolute mission means we will continue to invest in Afghanistan's future, our commitment to Afghanistan endures," Campbell said.

    NATO’s Resolute Support mission will consist of about 13,000 mostly American personnel that will continue advising, assisting and training Afghan national security forces in their fight against the Taliban.

    White House statement

    In a statement from the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama said,
    "Today's ceremony in Kabul marks a milestone for our country. For more than 13 years, ever since nearly 3,000 innocent lives were taken from us on 9/11, our nation has been at war in Afghanistan. 

    "Now, thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion," Obama said.

    However, "Afghanistan remains a dangerous place, and the Afghan people and their security forces continue to make tremendous sacrifices in defense of their country," he said.

    Campbell said the road ahead remains challenging.

    “There is no turning back to the dark days of the past. Insurgents are losing, they are desperate. ... It is time for the enemy to heed President [Ashraf] Ghani’s call, lay down their arms, come to the peace table and help to rebuild the Afghan nation," he said.

    Whether the Afghan forces can contain the insurgency remains an open question, with militants regularly launching deadly attacks against Kabul's security forces.

    NATO reaction

    In a statement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the coalition's war against the insurgents "made our own nations safer, by denying safe haven to international terrorists. We have made Afghanistan stronger, by building up from scratch strong security forces."

    Kabul resident Mohammad Salim voiced his confidence in the Afghan troops, saying, "We are satisfied by the capability of our Afghan security forces. They are now strong enough to assume security responsibility from NATO. We are proud of them.''

    However, Qasim Sanjani, also of Kabul, said continued international assistance is essential.

    “International security forces must give guarantees to the leadership of the Afghan government that they will stay behind our security forces in terms of training and supporting them for the long term. They must make sure that our army is fully equipped after they leave the country,” Sanjani said.

    New Afghan President Ghani has pledged to seek a political solution to the insurgency and has called on the Taliban and its allies to engage in peace talks with his national unity government.

    Instead, the militants have intensified attacks, citing Ghani’s move to conclude security agreements with the United States and NATO and allowing an enduring foreign military presence in the country.  

    Gratitude to NATO troops

    Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar, while addressing the ceremony, expressed his gratitude for the efforts and sacrifices coalition forces have made to secure Afghanistan.  

    “Nearly 3,500 NATO personnel have been killed in action and over 30,000 NATO personnel have been wounded in action. The Afghan people pray for your fallen, wounded and their loved ones,” Atmar said.

    This year has been the deadliest for Afghan security forces in their decade long battle against the Taliban and insurgents have made gains in parts of the country to extend their influence.

    Atmar said Afghan forces have successfully led security operations for the past nearly two years in most of Afghanistan but underscored the need for continued international help ensure their long-term sustainability.

    “We are not yet able to do everything alone. We have made tremendous progress, but we recognize that your continued support will be key in ensuring that our collective gains will be enduring,” he said.

    At its peak, there were about 140,000 troops from 50 countries taking part in the ISAF operation in Afghanistan.

    It was launched under U.S. leadership to invade Afghanistan 13 years ago to remove the Taliban from power for sheltering the al-Qaida network that plotted the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

    Washington has since spent more than $100 billion on Afghan reconstruction in addition to its estimated $1 trillion war effort.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
    by: Jason from: Oklahoma City
    December 29, 2014 3:11 PM
    Step 1 teach Afghan Army to read.
    Step 2 teach geographically isolated population how to read
    Step 3 Watch Mullahs fail in their Information Operation campaign due to the populace gathering information from sources outside the Mullahs and radical Islam.
    No one seems to understand how illiterate the country is, if they are rural Pashtun then they usually only know what they have been told and that's about it.
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    December 29, 2014 5:15 PM
    Genghis Khan was the greatest conquer in the history of the world, who with his troops, couldn't read or write their own languages, [BUT YET], he conquered more countries and peoples [and ruled over them] who could read and write, [AND BELIEVE THIS], the US and NATO countries could defeat these uneducated guys in (13) years, and now have gone home to the safety of their respective countries?...

    PS;.. The US and NATO country had a cause and reason to invade Afghanistan [09-11-2001], but that cause and reason isn't worth the fight anymore, while Al-Qaeda and the Taliban will continue the fight for (40) years or more?..... [it's not how educated an enemy is, it's the cause and reason they'll continue to fight, while their educated enemy quits and goes home?].

    by: Bruno Brown from: Toronto
    December 29, 2014 2:31 PM
    As I see it, 13,000 troops to remain in Afghanistan , I suppose they will be stationed at that 400 acre EMBASSY in Kabul, so who are you trying to kid saying the war is over, it compares to Alfred E. Newman {AKA George Bush} when he bannered battleship with {MISSION ACOMPLISHED]. Try telling the truth, it works wonders and you get more respect for it.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    December 29, 2014 1:21 PM
    This is an invitation to disaster and chaos. Just to create room for another al qaida type terrorist group in a place already awash with terror cells and capable of caving in to welcome ISIS. If Taliban and al qaida were not good enough, leaving Afghanistan with 13,000 troops to do what 140,000 could not achieve is simply invitation to chaos. Already the cities out there are boiling with suicide bombings and other terror attacks on the increase. What will NATO and USA call the Afghanistan campaign, a success of a fiasco? I see it as a mission of naivety rather than a stupid attempt to close wars on terror abroad in the name of campaign promise.

    USA has been sold out - no wonder it is struggling to keep pace with its shadows shooting at it everyday. It is faced with a ludicrous inability to differentiate selfish and parochial designs of mediocrity in state policy and mission - because it is coming from the statehouse called White House. Despite large retinue of alliances, these wrong policies made at the White House are capable of bringing on USA the fate it meted to the USSR when this regime packs it load to vacate the White House soon, especially as the so-called alliances in Europe, NATO etc seem fluid.

    by: paul from: florida
    December 29, 2014 7:53 AM
    who's fault is this? 13 years and you can't trail them? All for what? Taliban will be back in power and all the blood & money for nothing😱

    by: Salim from: Pakistan
    December 29, 2014 7:35 AM
    it is just a matter of days when afghan forces will start laying down their weapons against Taliban fact they will join one can understand the afghan mental state..

    by: sid from: asia
    December 29, 2014 7:21 AM
    At last a FAILED mission ended. Official deceleration is a nice way to hide their DEFEAT.
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    December 29, 2014 9:29 AM
    The cause and reason the US invaded Afghanistan, [the 09-11-2001 Al-Qaeda attack on America], has been lost in the politics of the US and the reasoning "the Global War on Terror" could never be won, [and now], the US will give the world a hundred causes and reasons they have decided to abandon the Afghan War without defeating the terrorist Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.....

    Like Ho Chi Minh said, "If you don't want to fight a conflict or war for (40) years or more, don't start it."...... [and if the US ever had a cause and reason to invade Afghanistan, [the Al-Qaeda attack on 09-11-2001], why is that cause and reason no longer a reason to stay now and finish that mission?]..... [the politics of failure?].

    by: jwoolman from: USA
    December 29, 2014 6:08 AM
    Advisers?!? Again? Just another way to keep the war going. The U.S. government killed more Afghani civilians in just two months after 9/11 than all the Saudi hijackers put together. This has never made any sense and certainly has had nothing to do with promoting peace, freedom, or democracy.

    by: Rage from: Melbourne
    December 28, 2014 11:01 PM
    Took the US 13 years to build " strong security forces from scratch"?? Takes them 4 years to train a soilder in US.
    In Response

    by: fixento from: PA
    December 30, 2014 5:39 PM
    Four years to train a soldier? What are you talking about, most US soldiers hit Afghanistan or Iraq where there within their first year of service. Problem with training moron soldiers in both these countries is the high unemployment,they join only for the money, high illiterate rate, no loyalty to the central government, low pay, pathetic men as NCO's and officers, lack of morals, cowardly because their is no religious cause and no promise of 72 or whatever virgins. Instead of the defoliation of all the poppy crops in Antofagasta, US give the farmers money and supplies to grow wheat, right up to the time they are threatened and grow poppy instead supplying 65 percent of the world opium. Our government and those that believe in its rhetoric are dumber than a box of rocks.
    In Response

    by: Light from: USA
    December 29, 2014 8:55 AM
    And you know it takes four years to train a soldier how? You served in the US Army? From my experience, I had nine weeks of basic training followed by seven months of advanced individual training.

    by: Merhoff from: Red Bluff, CA
    December 28, 2014 10:32 PM
    This is simply the pattern that has been followed since WW II. That was the last military conflict in which the U.S. could claim victory---all the others were failures. We honor the men who have died in these futile combats and the officers who led them--disgracefully. We have been in a succession of what Eisenhower warned us against---the famous MIC. They originally included Congress in that, but it has been eliminated by congressional mandate. We have become a nation without a conscience and continue to dabble in events in which we have no real concern. I have no faith in our military or political "leaders" and think my position is well justified. I would welcome any argument to the contrary. I am an 87 year old non-combat veteran of WW II and really honor those who took part in that horrible event---our freedom exists due to them. Where has our freedom been challenged in Iraq, Afghanistan, any Middle East country? We are a nation of naïve fools.
    In Response

    by: brad steeg from: costa rica
    December 29, 2014 8:56 AM
    I don't think there is a reasonable counter argument, however, there is a reasonable explanation. The world is far too complex for a handful of men to manage. Yet we were forced to rely on a few managers because information has been wildly expensive. Now that information is becoming less expensive more minds will begin to assume the burden of management. And those many minds will start to arrive at the same conclusions you have. The world will get better as new tools allow more of us to collaborate on solutions. We're just living at the tail end of a world managed by a small group of men who were biologically incapable of meeting the challenges they faced.
    In Response

    by: Harold Koehler
    December 29, 2014 8:27 AM
    Exactly. Has anyone in the media or otherwise ever considered that had we not interfered with the Russian incursion into Afghanistan our islamic terrorist problems, eg. 911, would probably have never occurred? The Russians invaded Afghanistan to thwart a islamic extremist threat trying to overthrow the Russian allied govt. Russia did not want to have an extremist state on their border.

    The Russians would have brutally dealt with the extremists and would have kept order just like Sadam did in Iraq. I am not saying Russia or Sadam are angels but at least they can keep order. The only US military intervention that was justified and fought correctly was the Gulf War in 91. We went in kicked ass and left, also the tab was picked up by our allies. We need to basically protect our own country and only intervene if we are directly threatened. This is basically what libertarians believe and is what I have become as a result of our inept and corrupt govt.
    In Response

    by: Nick from: Chicago
    December 29, 2014 6:57 AM
    Our freedom was challenged when terrorist took down the twin towers. As an WW2 vet, you should know your time and place to critcize. This should be a time to honor the sacrifices that were made by the brave men and women who served in Afghanistan. Thanks you to all for your service!

    by: GAUTAM ANIL from: Delhi
    December 28, 2014 10:09 PM
    Local issues can best be resolved by locals best....why dont we understand this, US has managed to keep Russia away with help of Talibaan its up to Afghans how best and fast they build their nation. Ofcourse , for that they have to get out of their ' Clan Psyche'.
    In Response

    by: Gautam Anil from: Dehli, 3rd world
    December 29, 2014 7:35 AM
    Says the Indian with his might caste system, I guess 3rd rate parent taught you to be dishonest. Main reason why India is so regressive and backwards.
    Comments page of 2

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