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On December 24, 1979, Soviet tanks rumbled across the Amu Darya River and into Afghanistan, ostensibly to restore stability following a coup that brought to power a pair of Marxist-Leninist political groups—the People’s (Khalq) Party and the Banner (Parcham) Party. officials hoped that by partnering with the Afghans they could avoid deploying a large force to Afghanistan.

But the Soviet presence touched off a nationwide rebellion by Islamist fighters, who won extensive covert backing from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States and who were joined in their fight by foreign volunteers. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) team known as Jawbreaker arriving in the country and, working with anti-Taliban allies, initiating a strategy for overthrowing the regime. Pentagon officials were especially concerned that the United States not be drawn into a protracted occupation of Afghanistan, as had occurred with the Soviets more than two decades prior.

The United States, meanwhile, had had only limited success in killing or capturing Taliban commanders. This reality prompted the United States to begin targeting insurgent leaders who lived in remotely piloted drones. Pakistani officials in turn denounced the strikes in public but privately approved of them as long as civilian casualties were limited.

In early 2007, Mullah Obaidullah Akhund—the Taliban’s number three leader—was captured in Pakistan, and months later Mullah Dadullah—the Taliban’s top military commander—was killed in fighting with U. The CIA program of targeted killings was publicly denied by U. The United States repeatedly threatened to expand its drone strikes beyond Pakistan’s tribal areas and into regions such as Balochistān if Pakistan did not demonstrate greater cooperation in battling the Taliban, a group it had long fostered.

With behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the United States, ), the Americans were believed to have come closest to bin Laden in the December 2001 battle of Tora Bora (bin Laden’s mountain stronghold). military had allowed Afghan forces to lead the assault on the cave complex at Tora Bora rather than doing it themselves. John Kerry made this criticism repeatedly during the 2004 general election campaign.) Al-Qaeda subsequently reestablished its base of operations in the tribal areas that form Pakistan’s northwest border with Afghanistan.

But bin Laden was thought to have managed to have slipped into Pakistan with the help of Afghan and Pakistani forces that were supposedly helping the Americans. Omar and his top Taliban lieutenants settled in and around the Pakistani city of Quetta, in the remote southwestern province of Balochistān.

Those feelings were nurtured by the sluggish pace of reconstruction, allegations of prisoner abuse at U. detention facilities, widespread corruption in the Afghan government, and civilian casualties caused by U. Another source of money was Afghanistan’s resurgent opium industry.At first the attacks caused relatively few casualties, but as training and the availability of high-powered explosives increased, the death toll began to climb: in one particularly vicious attack in November 2007, at least 70 people—many of them children—were killed as a parliamentary delegation visited the northern town of Baghlan. military vehicle crashed and killed several Afghans, an event that sparked violent anti-American riots in Kabul—the worst since the war began. troops and resources in Iraq, where sectarian warfare was reaching alarming levels.Less than a year later, a bombing at the Indian embassy in Kabul killed more than 50; the Afghan government accused elements of Pakistan’s intelligence service of complicity in the attack, a charge Pakistan denied. Later that year NATO took command of the war across the country; American officials said that the United States would play a lesser role and that the face of the war would become increasingly international. By contrast, the war in Afghanistan was still regarded in Washington as a relative success.Taliban (the ultraconservative political and religious faction that ruled Afghanistan and provided sanctuary for al-Qaeda, perpetrators of the September 11 attacks)—was brief, lasting just two months. The larger force was used to implement a strategy of protecting the population from Taliban attacks and supporting efforts to reintegrate insurgents into Afghan society.The second phase, from 2002 until 2008, was marked by a U. strategy of defeating the Taliban militarily and rebuilding core institutions of the Afghan state. Barack Obama’s 2009 decision to temporarily increase the U. The strategy came coupled with a timetable for the withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan; beginning in 2011, security responsibilities would be gradually handed over to the Afghan military and police.

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