Flag of Afghanistan
  1. Afghanistan Main Page
  2. Soviet Invasion
  3. The Rise of the Taliban
  4. The U.S. Responds to the September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks
  5. Reemergence of the Taliban
  6. Taliban Attacks Become More Deadly
  7. Afghanistan Holds Second Direct Presidential Elections
  8. Support for the War on the Wane
  9. Osama bin Laden Is Killed
  10. Violence and Assassinations Diminish Confidence in Afghanistan's Security Forces
  11. U.S. Begins to Reduce Its Role in Afghanistan as Relationship Deteriorates
  12. Karzai Rejects Security Deal with U.S.
  13. Presidential Election Marred by Allegations of Fraud; Unity Government Formed
  14. Taliban Detainees Released in Prisoner Swap With U.S.; U.S. General Killed
  15. U.S. and NATO End Combat Operation in Afghanistan
  16. President Ghani Announces Cabinet Months After Taking Office; Visit With Obama Results in Additional U.S. Support
  17. Taliban Founder Reportedly Dead
  18. Taliban Captures Kunduz, Doctors Without Borders Hospital Hit in Airstrike
U.S. Begins to Reduce Its Role in Afghanistan as Relationship Deteriorates

Shortly after U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta announced in early February 2012 that the military would end its combat role in Afghanistan by the middle of 2013 and shift toward an "advise and assist" capacity, a series of missteps and tragedies that intensified anti-U.S. sentiment forced officials to consider accelerating the withdrawal of troops even further. First, U.S. troops were caught on video urinating on the bodies of Taliban fighters. This incident was followed in February with another in which U.S. troops unintentionally burned several copies of the Koran. Two U.S. officials working in Afghanistan's interior ministry were shot and killed in retaliation. In March, a U.S. soldier went on a door-to-door rampage, brutally killing 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children. The events sparked nationwide anti-U.S. protests in Afghanistan, and U.S. officials feared a resurgence of the Taliban–and renewed support of the Taliban by Afghan citizens. In addition, the Taliban said it was withdrawing from talks with the Karzai government and U.S. officials.

In April, the U.S. took a significant step toward transferring military control to Afghanistan when it gave Afghan troops control over special operations missions, which include the controversial night-time attacks on suspected insurgents that have claimed scores of civilian casualties. A week later, the the Haqqani network, a militant group allied with the Taliban, launched seven synchronized attacks on Parliament and the Green Zone in Kabul and in three provinces (Nangarhar, Paktia, and Logar). The assaults tested the Afghan military's defensive abilities and highlighted the network's increasing sophistication and threat. Casualties were minimal—only six fatalities—but the raid on Parliament lasted 18 hours.

On May 1—the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan and signed an agreement with President Karzai that said the U.S. will provide Afghanistan development assistance for 10 years after troops withdraw in 2013.

In September 2012, the U.S. withdrew the last of the remaining combat troops who were deployed to Afghanistan during the surge of 2009. The U.S. still plans to withdraw all remaining combat troops by the end of 2014, when Afghan officials will assume security over the country. However, the U.S. announced in November that a counterterrorism force would stay in Afghanistan after 2014 in an advisory and training role. The Taliban launched series of suicide bombings and attacks on coalition and government targets throughout 2012, illustrating that the group remains a threat to government officials and civilians alike, raising questions about the ability of Afghan security forces to maintain order once allied combat troops leave. Those fears were reinforced in early December when the Pentagon released a report that said only one of the 23 Afghan National Army brigades is capable of functioning without assistance from U.S. forcers. In addition, the report said, "The Taliban-led insurgency remains adaptive and determined, and retains the capability to emplace substantial numbers of I.E.D.s and to conduct isolated high-profile attacks."

The New York Times reported in April 2013 that the CIA has been delivering bags full of cash to Karzai for more than ten years. The "ghost money," which has totaled millions, was initially used to enlist warlords in the war against the Taliban, but over time Karzai used the money to win the loyalty of the warlords, thereby fueling the drug trade and only fostering an environment of corruption.

On June 18, 2013, the Afghan National Security Force assumed complete responsibility for the security of the country, taking over the last areas under NATO control. The 352,000-troop force has shown steady improvement over the past few years and has assumed control over most urban areas. The transition was an important milestone in the country's fight against the Taliban and its move away from dependence on outside forces for stability.

Next: Karzai Rejects Security Deal with U.S.
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