President Joe Biden finally ordered the US military, political and economic intervention in Afghanistan to end after nearly two decades, but at what cost?
The war in Afghanistan not only claimed thousands of lives, it was also, and appears to continue to be, a very costly expense for the United States and its allies. Although they tried to stop her for a long time, recently, the Islamic Emirate Taliban faction occupied the capital of Kabul and pressured Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country.
After almost 20 years of conflict, the recounting of all that was wasted in this attempt to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan begins. Studies show that the United States spent billions of dollars in this war, mainly in maintaining its army and rebuilding the country so damaged.
US military forces have had a presence in Afghanistan since October 2001 after the terrorist group Al Qaeda made its attack on the World Trade Center on September 11 of that same year.
In just 10 years, there were 110,000 permanent US soldiers in Afghanistan, and that figure does not include temporary personnel or special forces who were on Afghan soil. Although NATO and other countries also had a military presence, the US military became the largest in 2011.
During the terms of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, their armed forces began to withdraw, and by 2020 it was estimated that only 4,000 of their soldiers remained in Afghanistan who were training the Afghan army and providing support to rebuild the country.
According to calculations by Brown University, this huge army and its fight against Taliban forces accounted for an expenditure of almost 100 billion dollars annually, mainly between 2010 and 2012, when the largest offensive operations were carried out.
Beginning in 2014, the US military focused on training Afghan forces to continue to hold off the Taliban, which caused spending to decrease somewhat. However, the monetary damage had already been done.
The United States Department of Defense report calculated that between October 2001 and September 2019, a total of 778 billion dollars were spent in this war only in maintaining the army.
But this figure should be added to what was spent on reconstruction projects in Afghanistan and the spending of the US operations center in Pakistan. So the Brown University study estimates that $ 978 billion was actually spent already, including 2020.
Not enough expense? Despite the fact that its troops have already been withdrawn, the United States has agreed to finance the forces of Afghanistan with 4 billion dollars annually until 2024 so that they can rebuild the nation and fight terrorism.
It is sadly inevitable to have to talk about the important thing: human losses. From October 2001 to date, 64,000 Afghan soldiers and officers have been killed in battle, and there have also been 111,000 civilian casualties. The United States registered 2,300 military casualties, and NATO had 1,200 deaths in the same period.
But unfortunately, this is not over either, and perhaps the recent deaths of Afghans who perished in their attempt to escape the country should be included. Now the Taliban have returned to power, so it is feared that they will retaliate against those who collaborated with the United States and NATO during these years. In addition, there is fear that the repression against women will get worse.
Did the billions of dollars spent by the United States in this war do any good? Perhaps this waste will have to be suffered by future generations. Only time will tell.