U.S. leaves Afghanistan

After 20 years, U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

Cecilia Carrero, Co-Editor-in-Chief

9/11 Attack

      On September 11, 2001 four airplanes were hijacked by 19 militants connected to the Islamic group called “al Qaeda.” They planned attacks against major United States targets, including the White House. Two planes flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The third plane hit the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C. And the fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, PA. Exactly 2,977 people were killed that day. 

The war begins 

      Investigators of the 9/11 attacks said they were planned by terrorists who were working from Afghanistan, which, at the time, was under the control of the Taliban. They were in control of the country the day of the 9/11 attacks. With the help of Northern Alliance forces, the United States pushed the Taliban out of the capital city of Kabul. On December 6, 2001 Kandahar fell which spelled the end of the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. This then led to al Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden, to flee the country. During a speech April 17, 2002, President George W. Bush called for a Marshall Plan to help in Afghanistan’s reconstruction. Eight thousand American troops stayed in Afghanistan while the U.S. military’s focus turned towards Iraq in 2003. 

Obama in Charge 

      On February 17, 2009 the newly-elected president Barack Obama pledged to send an additional 17,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. He wanted them there by the summer to join the 32,000 NATO and the 36,000 American troops that were already deployed. 

      “This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires,” he said. 

      After they arrived, there were about 110,000 soldiers in Afghanistan by 2011. After the death of Bin Laden and a decade into the war, Obama released a plan to withdraw 33,000 U.S. troops by the summer of 2012. He wanted to get all the troops out by 2014, but then delayed that deadline to begin withdrawing troops in 2014. 

      The remaining 9,800 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan were to stay and train local forces. 

President Trump elected

      On April 13, 2017, the U.S. dropped the “mother of all bombs” , which is their most powerful non-nuclear bomb, on a terrorist stronghold at the direction of the president. 

      “We will fight to win [in Afghanistan]. America’s enemies must never know our plans, or believe they can wait us out,”  he said  in a speech to the American troops. “I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.”

      Even after a Taliban attack that killed 11 innocent people plus a U.S. soldier dead, the U.S. and the Taliban signed a peace agreement on February 29, 2020. Trump planned to withdraw troops leaving only 2,500 troops in Afghanistan by January 15, 2021.  

Biden leaves Afghanistan 

      President Joe Biden wanted to set September 11, 2021, which is the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, as the deadline of the full U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan- though the evacuation of American citizens and military forces began weeks ago. On August 14, 2021, Biden temporarily deployed 6,000 U.S. troops to help the evacuation.

      “I was the fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war on to a fifth,” he said.

      During this lengthy war in Afghanistan, more than 3,500 allied soldiers were killed along with 2,448 American service members. Another 20,000-plus Americans were injured during the war. 

      The U.S. population has been waiting for this war to come to an end and it finally has, but the question on everyone’s mind is “What’s next?”