James Middlebrook

The war in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, was launched by President George W. Bush on October 7, 2001 and is now America’s longest war. Perhaps because the American public is worn down, young adults barely remember a day without it and almost every leader involved in its inception has left government, the 18th anniversary of the war last month seemed to pass without much attention. After nearly two decades, enough is enough. It’s time to make a deal and end the war. Another Veterans Day should not pass with Americans fighting in Afghanistan.

The costs to our servicemembers and our nation are too high to continue a war that eclipses major benchmarks unnoticed. Our military and veterans deserve better. 

The U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan has produced over 2 million veterans, 20,000 were wounded in action, and more than 2,400 troops have been killed. 2019 has already eclipsed the deadliest year of the war since 2014, seeing 14 service members killed in combat related incidents.  Casualties will likely continue in the coming year and men and women in uniform will suffer to perpetuate a stalemate. The toll another year will have on military members and their loved ones, the lifelong effects it can have on veterans, and the cost of continuing the fight while there’s funding needed for domestic programs is too high.

The best option in front of us is a stalemate negotiated through political settlement. We can continue to fight, but without increasing the scope of our operations we are likely to only make marginal advances. After nearly two decades, it seems we’ve done all that we can. Notably, we will leave Afghanistan less developed than we had hoped for, but drastically improved since we intervened.

Deploying soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors to a war older than themselves is heart wrenching and representative of the strategic failures of the last 18 years. It’s time to negotiate a political resolution and make this the last Veterans Day to pass with troops fighting in Afghanistan.