With over 2200 American causalities alone over the last 16 years, the war in Afghanistan has proved to be an obstacle that has extended itself across 3 U.S. Presidencies. Years after the Taliban has been driven from its old stomping grounds, Afghanistan is still a nation plagued with terror. A NATO coalition of over a dozen countries has done its best to stabilize the Middle-Eastern nation but has still faced a variety of issues.
Al the trouble started when the former Soviet Union launched a campaign to take Afghanistan and secure a foothold in the Middle East. Prior to this, the West had total sway over the actions in the Middle East as most nations there were very new, formerly being colonies or part of Britain, France or the Ottoman Empire. The U.S. refused to let the U.S.S.R gain a foothold and helped to fund and train the Mujahedeen who eventually beat back the Soviet invaders in 1979. Even to this day, weapons supplied by the U.S. or U.S.S.R can be found in the hands of terror organizations not just in Afghanistan but in Iraq as well.
Over the past 6 years, the world has seen the growth of its newest and deadliest terror group ISIS, which has taken root in Afghanistan. Alongside the Taliban, it has proven particularly tough to eliminate. On March 8th, in their deadliest attack yet, ISIS fighters entered a military hospital in Kabul, dressed as doctors, and slaughtered 30 doctors, patients, and nurses. This along with a variety of other attacks has begged the question, what will the U.S. do differently than it has been doing over the last 8 years? The answer to this question appears thus far to be relatively simple.
Under the Trump Administration, military commanders have had a relative amount of autonomy, not previously felt under the Obama Administration. This kind of autonomy is what allowed for and led to the dropping of the M.O.A.B, earlier in the year on ISIS targets in Afghanistan. Additionally, President Trump has been supportive of increased troop deployments to Afghanistan to not only serve in so-called “advise and assist” missions but to resume combat roles. This willingness can be seen in the Pentagons announcement in January of 300 marines to Helmand Province in Afghanistan, one of the most volatile and unstable in the nation.
The Army announced in early March that it would be deploying 1500 soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division to Afghanistan in the summer of 2017. It is currently going on an advise and assist basis but will be ready to fight if called upon. Lieutenant Colonel Dan Buccino, a spokesman for the 82nd says that “This is not a change to the mission there and this is not an increase in forces,” said Buccino, saying it was there on an advise-and-assist mission in support of Afghan forces. “This deployment represents the normal flow-of-forces into Afghanistan."
As the Trump Presidency continues it may be safe to say we could expect a potential uptick in U.S. troop deployments to Afghanistan and the Middle East as a whole. U.S. troop presence in the nation surged in 2011 at 100,000 troops but has dropped down to about 8400.