Contributed by Milt Omoto
Began in 2001, triggered by the September 11 attacks and consisted of three phases. The first
phase—toppling the Taliban (the ultraconservative political and religious faction that ruled
Afghanistan and provided sanctuary for al-Qaeda, perpetrators of the September 11 attacks)
was brief, lasting just two months.
The second phase, from 2002 until 2008, was marked by a
U.S. strategy of defeating the Taliban militarily and rebuilding core institutions of the Afghan
The third phase, a turn to classic counterinsurgency doctrine, began in 2008 and
accelerated with an increase in U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. The larger force was used
to implement a strategy of protecting the population from Taliban attacks and supporting efforts
to reintegrate insurgents into Afghan society.
The strategy came coupled with a timetable for the withdrawal of the foreign forces from
Afghanistan; beginning in 2011, security responsibilities would be gradually handed over to the
Afghan military and police.
The new approach largely failed to achieve its aims. Insurgent attacks and civilian casualties remained stubbornly high, while many of the Afghan military and police units taking over security duties appeared to be ill-prepared to hold off the Taliban. By the
time the U.S. and NATO combat mission “formally” ended in December 2014, the 13-year Afghanistan War had become the longest war ever fought by the United States.
Asian/Pacific-Americans were among the victims and heroes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As
America’s resolve led way to the current overseas contingency operations, as in wars past,
many Asian/Pacific-Americans answered the call of duty to defend America by serving in the
Currently there are still 2,500 U.S. service members in Afghanistan.