61 Photographs of the American War in Afghanistan

US Department of Defense

The War in Afghanistan followed the September 11 attacks in 2001 when President George W. Bush ordered that the Taliban give Osama bin Laden to the United States and expel al-Qaeda from Afghanistan. The Taliban refused to comply without evidence of his involvement in the World Trade Center attacks.

On October 7, 2001, the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom with United Kingdom partnership. The Northern Alliance, officially known as the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan, a group that formed in 1996 and had been fighting a civil war, joined the American cause. In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), to assist the Afghan authorities with securing Kabul.

The initial American invasion proved successful, but the Taliban reorganized under Mullah Omar and launched an insurgency against the Afghan government and ISAF in 2003. By 2009, there were about 140,000 foreign soldiers operating under ISAF and U.S. command. Of these, 100,000 were American.

On May 1, 2011, United States Navy SEAL Team Six killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Exit strategies for withdrawing forces began getting endorsement in May 2012 by NATO leaders. In May 2014, the United States announced that in December, major combat operations would end, but a residual force would remain in the country.

On December 28, 2014, ISAF ended combat operations and transferred all security responsibility to the Afghan government.

As of May 2017, over 13,000 foreign troops remain in Afghanistan without any formal withdrawal plans.

Since 2001, the United States has spent $714 billion. Over 4,000 ISAF soldiers and civilian contractors, 15,000 Afghan National security forces, over 2,386 American soldiers, 1,173 U.S. civilian contractors, and over 31,000 Afghan civilians were killed in the war.

October 7, 2001. Afterburners create streaks of light during catapult launches from the flight deck aboard USS Enterprise as US Navy fighter aircraft depart for the first strike missions over Afghanistan
The US and Britain on October 7, 2001, launched the first wave of air strikes against Afghanistan and then US President George W. Bush said the action heralded a sustained, comprehensive and relentless campaign against terrorism. Business Insider
November 10, 2001. Osama bin Laden sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri, during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir in an image supplied by the Dawn newspaper. Telegraph
November 14, 2001. A young Afghan woman shows her face in public for the first time after five years of Taliban Sharia law as she waits at a food distribution center in Kabul. Telegraph
Anti-Taliban Afghan fighters watch several explosions from U.S. bombings in the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan in December 2001. Daily Mail
Two Northern Alliance soldiers watch as the dust and smoke rises after explosions in Taliban positions on Kalakata hill, near the village of Ai-Khanum in northern Afghanistan, November 1, 2001. Business Insider
An Eastern Alliance fighter watched as an American B-52 bomber circled above Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountains in 2001. Credit Joao Silva for The New York Times
A Northern Alliance fighter prepares for fighting against pro-Taliban forces. Daily Mail
Northern Alliance fighters on the way into Kabul in 2001 found a Taliban fighter in a ditch and killed him despite his pleas. Credit Tyler Hicks for The New York Times
An Afghan soldier uses a wooden stick to maintain order among women waiting for humanitarian aid at a World Food Programme (WFP) distribution point in Kabul, in December 2001. Daily Mail
Northern Alliance troops walked to the front lines at Bangi, outside the besieged Taliban stronghold of Kunduz in 2001. Credit James Hill for The New York Times
American soldiers at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, in 2002. Credit Tyler Hicks: The New York Times
US Marine PV2 Eileen M. Schnetzko stands on guard at Bagram airport, March 2, 2002. US troops were based at Bagram, north of Kabul. Business Insider
April 18, 2002: Naval vessels from five nations fall into position for a rare photographic opportunity. From top row left to right: Italian frigate, ITS Maestrale (F 570), French destroyer, FS De Grasse (D 612), U.S. aircraft carrier, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), U.S. cruiser, USS Port Royal (CG 73), French aircraft carrier, FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91), British Royal Navy amphibious warfare ship, HMS Ocean (L 12), French frigate, FS Surcouf (F 711), U.S. aircraft carrier, USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), Dutch frigate, HNLMS Van Amstel (F 831), Italian destroyer, ITS Luigi Durand de la Penne (D 560). The coalition forces are deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Telegraph
A US special forces soldier, left, watches while Afghan militia wait in line to turn in their weapons at a military base in Kunduz, Afghanistan, October 22, 2003. Business Insider
U.S. troops, under the watchful eye of locals, search houses in southeastern Afghanistan in November 2002. Daily Mail
Vida Samadzai became the first Miss Afghanistan in 30 years in 2003. Daily Mail
New Afghan soldiers perform a traditional dance to the beat of a drum during a ceremony for the Afghan National Army in Kabul, June 2003. Daily Mail
A Chinook helicopter hovers over US troops in the village of Jegdelic, about 56 miles southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, in this picture taken on December 24, 2004. Business Insider
Afghan soldiers sit on a ledge overlooking the valley of Bamian in central Afghanistan, in September 2005. Daily Mail
May 5, 2007: British Army surgeon Major Andy Bruce takes out fragments from the legs of injured British Army soldier Simon Peacock from the Royal Anglian Regiment, during surgery at the operating theatre at the British Army Field Hospital at Camp Bastion in the desert in Helmand Province. Simon Peacock was injured by multiple fragments in a Taliban Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) attack. Telegraph
Then-US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, center, presents a medal of valor to Sgt. Kenneth Stover, left, as soldiers watch from a rooftop during a medal ceremony in Kandahar, Afghanistan, December 22, 2005. Business Insider
American soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division took cover and yelled to others to get out of the line of fire after being ambushed in a valley by Taliban fighters while patrolling the village of Hazarbuz in southern Afghanistan in 2006. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
A French sniper looks through his rifle’s scope while keeping watch over Qarabagh district, about 40 km (25 miles) north of Kabul, in November 2007. Daily Mail
Wounded soldiers in the Korengal Valley in 2007. Credit Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
An Afghan boy looks at US soldiers as they patrol a village near the town of Makkor, southwest of Kabul, April 20, 2007. Business Insider
A US soldier works with a shovel as a vehicle is stuck in the mud, some 70 km south of Ghazni, southeastern Afghanistan, April 23, 2007. Business Insider
A Canadian soldier shakes hands with an Afghan boy during a joint patrol with Afghan National Army troops near Panjwaii village, Kandahar province, in July 2007. Daily Mail
A Canadian soldier from the NATO-led coalition crawls for cover seconds after his position was hit by a Taliban shell during an ambush in Zhari district of Kandahar province, in October 2007. Daily Mail