Costing America’s Afghan campaign
September 11, 2021 - America’s two-decade-long conflict in Afghanistan, which started in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has ultimately proved unwinnable despite its staggering cost in blood and expenditure.
Since President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops on April 13, the Taliban offensive has accelerated. In April, the fundamentalist Islamists controlled just 77 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts. According to the Long War Journal, the Taliban now holds 223 districts.
Although Afghan security forces still control Kabul, heavy fighting is raging around the provincial capitals of Herat, Lashkar Gah and Kandahar as of Sunday (August 1).
Afghan troops are fighting in Herat alongside militias of an anti-Taliban warlord, Ismail Khan. At the same time, Kandahar is at serious risk of falling to the militants.
Kandahar lawmaker, Gul Ahmad Kamin, told the BBC on Saturday that the situation was deteriorating by the hour -- fighting within the city was at its worst in 20 years.
In Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, where almost 800 U.S. and British soldiers lost their lives, heavy fighting continued inside the city on Sunday.
Pentagon watchdog John Sopko, the U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR), reports that the cost of the conflict to the U.S. taxpayer has reached a staggering $970.2 billion. The sum covers the operating costs of the U.S. military in Afghanistan plus reconstruction costs.
The Costs of War Project at Brown University also estimates that 241,000 people have died because of the war in Afghanistan, including 2,442 American and 455 British service members. It’s estimated that over 3,800 U.S. private security contractors have also been killed -- the Pentagon does not track their deaths.