The final phase of ending America's “forever war” in Afghanistan after 20 years formally began Saturday. President Biden previously set May 1 as the official start of the withdrawal of the remaining forces—about 2,500-3,500 US troops and about 7,000 NATO soldiers. They are due to be gone by the end of summer. More, via two AP stories:
- The US is estimated to have spent more than $2 trillion in Afghanistan in the past two decades, according to the Costs of War project at Brown University, which documents the hidden costs of the US military engagement.
- Meanwhile, 2,442 US troops have been killed and 20,666 wounded in the war since 2001, according to the Defense Department. It’s estimated that over 3,800 US private security contractors have been killed. The Pentagon does not track their deaths.
- Afghans have paid the highest price. Since 2001, at least 47,245 civilians have been killed in the war as of mid-April, according to the Costs of War project. The Afghan government keeps the toll among its soldiers secret to avoid undermining morale, but Costs of War estimates the war has killed 66,000 to 69,000 Afghan troops.
- The conflict also has killed 1,144 personnel from the 40-nation NATO coalition that trained Afghan forces over the years, according to a tally kept by the website iCasualties.
- The US and its NATO allies went into Afghanistan together on Oct. 7, 2001, to hunt the al-Qaeda perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks who lived under the protection of the country's Taliban rulers. Two months later, the Taliban had been defeated and al-Qaeda fighters and their leader, Osama bin Laden, were on the run.
- In his withdrawal announcement last month, Biden said the initial mission was accomplished a decade ago when US Navy SEALS killed bin Laden in his hideout in neighboring Pakistan. Since then, al-Qaeda has been degraded, while the terrorist threat has “metastasized” into a global phenomenon that is not contained by keeping thousands of troops in one country, he said.
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