The longest war in United States history has officially come to a close. And for many service members, the overwhelming feeling is: good riddance. (Military Times)
According to the article, “Many troops base their pessimism on firsthand experience with Afghanistan, its culture and its people.”
Use our resources to deepen awareness of this often misunderstood country.
Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.
Securing more opportunities for Afghanistan’s women and girls became a thread stitching through many U.S. policy decisions. Here, U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Brandy Bates stops to talk with Afghan children and their father during a foot patrol through the village of Tughay, in Helmand province. Photograph by Corporal Meredith Brown, U.S. Marine Corps, courtesy Wikimedia
Why do you think so many veterans and active-duty troops think “the mission in Afghanistan is ending
ambiguously,” according to the ?
Many members of the military interviewed by the
Military Times seem to think the U.S. mission itself was ambiguous. “What actually comes up is more the question of what our goal in Afghanistan was, not so much, ‘Did we win or did we lose?’ or ‘Should we stay or should we be pulling out?’ The question I hear is about what we as a nation intended to accomplish,” says Major Wayne Lacy, an artillery officer who deployed to Afghanistan in 2004.
What was the
initial mission of the U.S. military in Afghanistan?
The initial aim was to destroy the
al-Qaida network that attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Although none the hijackers of the aircraft that crashed in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania were Afghan, al-Qaida was tacitly supported and harbored by Afghanistan’s Taliban regime. Months after the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden released videos claiming responsibility from Jalalabad, in Nangarhar province.
How did the U.S. mission in Afghanistan change over the course of 11 years?
Read more about U.S. policy supporting “Reconstruction and Relief” in Afghanistan here. (Keep in mind that the initiatives outlined in “Reconstructing Afghanistan” were funded separately from the military effort.)
Establishing a democratic government became an initiative of the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Here, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan commander, meets with Habiba Sarabi, a 2014 candidate for vice president and current governor of Bamyan province. Read more about Sarabi and Afghanistan’s changing political culture in our blog post here. Photograph by U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katie Justen
Limiting the influence of the Taliban was a major goal of the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Use these 10 simple points for teachers and students to better understand the Taliban in Afghanistan. Here, U.S. Marines communicate with their command operation center during a raid on a Taliban headquarters. The Marines are from Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. Pictured left to right, top to bottom: 1st Lt Doug Ferreira (Fire Support Team Leader), Captain Ross Schellhaas (Company Commander), LCpl Schultz (Radio Operator), LCpl Branch (Forward Observer), Captain Jon Jordon (Forward Air Controller). Photograph by Sgt. Freddy G. Cantu, U.S. Marine Corps, courtesy Wikimedia.
Strengthening the Afghan National Army (ANA) was another goal of the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Here, U.S. Marine Gen. Peter Pace (in doorway) is introduced to a computer training class during his visit to the Afghan military training facility in Kabul. Read more about how U.S. leaders sought to broaden the strength and capacity of the Afghan National Army in this article. Photograph by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, courtesy Wikimedia.
At times, the U.S. military helped eradicate Afghanistan’s primary cash crop, opium, but at other times, the official policy was to permit opium production precisely because it was so vital to the country’s economy. Here, U.S. Marines and Afghan National Army soldiers patrol a crop of poppies outside Patrol Base Shark, in Helmand Province. Learn more about Afghanistan’s complex opium wars in this article. Photograph by Corporal Marco Mancha, 2nd Marine Division, courtesy Wikimedia.
Organizing military and police work in Afghanistan was one of the evolving goals of U.S. military forces in the country. Here, U.S. Marine Corporal Nathan Dittmer (second from left) smiles with his Afghan coworkers in Garmsir district, part of Helmand Province: Police patrolman Hazrat Ali, Afghan National Directorate of Security 1st Lt. Maiwand Salim; and Afghan National Army Sgt. Anamullah. Photograph by Corporal Reece Lodder, courtesy Wikimedia. Helping distribute food, clothing, and other necessities to internally displaced people (IDPs) and other civilians impacted by the conflict was an ongoing responsibility of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Click here to learn more about IDPs and other displaced people. Here, Corporal Henry Garza, a turret gunner with Company C, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment helps an Afghan child learn to drink from a juice box during a patrol near Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province. Photograph by Staff Sergeant Jeremy Ross, U.S. Marine Corps, courtesy Wikimedia.
Military Times: AMERICA’S MILITARY: Were the wars worth the cost?
Nat Geo: Afghanistan: Multidisciplinary Perspectives
Nat Geo: Reconstructing Afghanistan
Nat Geo: Education About Asia: The Taliban: Important Points for Teachers and Students
Nat Geo: Education About Asia: What History Can Teach Us about Contemporary Afghanistan
Nat Geo: Opium Wars
Nat Geo: Mapping Displaced People Around the World