The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan ended its combat mission Sunday, marking the formal—if not real—end to the longest war in American history.
American warplanes began bombing the country on Oct. 7, 2001, less than a month after the 9/11 attacks. Their goal was to drive the ruling Taliban from power, after they had given sanctuary inside the country to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, which had plotted the terror strikes.
That was accomplished on Nov. 13, 2001.
The U.S. and its allies have remained since then, trying to build up Afghan military and police forces sufficient to defend their country without outside help. Despite Sunday’s bowing out, the U.S. will remain involved in Afghanistan’s fight against the Taliban for years to come.
“In the wake of the Taliban’s defeat in 2001, Afghanistan possessed no standing, professional security forces,” Army General John Campbell, chief of the International Security Assistance Force,
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