Following the attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001, directed by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, US military operations inside Afghanistan got underway on October 7th 2001. The Taliban leadership which had hosted al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was swiftly ousted but al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden could not be captured or killed at the time. Working with a NATO coalition and UN support, the US has sought to safeguard Afghan nation building efforts in the country.
Ten years later, there are still around 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan and the situation on the ground remains difficult. Parts of the country are under the sway of a resurgent Taliban, especially in the south and east. The country’s second-largest city, Kandahar, remains a hotbed of Taliban support. In June, President Barack Obama announced that at least 68,000 US troops would remain in Afghanistan after a first tranche of 33,000 withdraw in the following months. If all goes to plan, most US combat troops will be out by 2013.