The Issues : Afghanistan

On October 7, 2001 the United States and a “coalition of the willing” launched Operation Enduring Freedom in apparent response to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. The stated purpose was to destroy Al -Queda, the group that claimed responsibility for the attacks on the U.S. Additionally, the U.S wanted to remove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and move it towards democracy. Within a few months of the war, the major leadership of Al-Queda moved out of Afghanistan into neighboring countries, such as Pakistan. The situation in Afghanistan began to destabilize as Afghanis pressed back against the U.S backed government  of Hamid Karzai as well as the U.S occupation of Afghanistan. On December 1, 2010 President Barack Obama sent an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan over 6 months. On June 22, 2011 President Obama announced a troop withdrawal of 10,000 US solders with an additional 23,000 to be withdrawn by the summer of 2012. The current troop level is over 100,000. On October 7, 2010 Afghanistan became the longest war in American history. The cost of the war in Afghanistan is crushing the U.S economy.  A March 2011 Congressional Research Service report notes that: 1) following the Afghanistan surge announcement in 2009, Defense Department spending on Afghanistan has increased 50%, going from $4.4 billion to $6.7 billion a month. During that time, troop strength has gone from 44,000 to 84,000, and it is expected to be at 102,000 for fiscal year 2011; 2) The total operational cost for Afghanistan from the beginning of the conflict in 2001 through 2006 only slightly exceeds the amount spent in 2010 alone — $93.8 billion. The projected total cost relating to Afghanistan in fiscal year 2011 is expected to be $118.6 billion. While the monetary cost of the war in Afghanistan is staggering, the cost in human life is an even bigger cost. According to www.icasulaties.org, which gets it's data from the Department of Defense, as of May 2011:
  • The number of U.S dead in Afghanistan is 1,663 and counting
  • The number of coalition dead is 925 and counting
  • The number of Afghani dead is unknown
  • The number of U.S wounded is 11,191
  • The number of Afghani wounded is unknown
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