The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan will continue for at least two more years. And the occupation’s core facets–Special Operations raids and reliance on brutal militias–will continue to wreak havoc on Afghan civilians for the foreseeable future, who are caught between the Taliban and their own government.
Last week, President Obama tried his best to spin the facts to announce that the war in Afghanistan was ending. Speaking at the Rose Garden on May 27, Obama said, “This is how wars end in the 21st century–not through signing ceremonies but through decisive blows against our adversaries, transitions to elected governments, security forces who are trained to take the lead and ultimately full responsibility.”
But the details of the continued occupation that Obama outlined in the speech undermine his assertion. While many American troops will come home in December, 800 will be left to continue to occupy and wage war in Afghanistan at a cost of at least $20 billion. (The continued occupation depends on the agreement of the new Afghan leader; both candidates for president said they support a troop presence.) Many of those troops will be the elite military units–Special Operations Forces–who bust down doors to kill suspected militants. By the end of 2015, 4,900 U.S. soldiers will come home. By the end of 2016, a small military presence will remain at the U.S. Embassy. That overt troop presence doesn’t count the army of civilians the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan has brought to the country, an army that will likely stay for many, many years.
Even if the presence of foreigners is vastly reduced, the people of Afghanistan will remain caught in an endless conflict between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. So the war will grind on. And until 2016, the most violent aspects of the U.S. presence will continue. Here are three ways the destructive conflict will continue after the end of this year.