Recently, we crossed the trillion dollar threshold for Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, the War in Afghanistan is officially longer than the Vietnam War, in length of American military presence, clocking in at 104 months long. Rick Hampson, USA Today, wrote on this milestone on May 27th this year:
Three months after 9/11, every major Taliban city in Afghanistan had fallen — first Mazar-i-Sharif, then Kabul, finally Kandahar. Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar were on the run. It looked as if the war was over, and the Americans and their Afghan allies had won.
Butch Ivie, then a school administrator in Winfield, Ala., remembers, “We thought we’d soon have it tied up in a neat little bag.”
But bin Laden and Omar eluded capture. The Taliban regrouped. Today, Kandahar again is up for grabs. And soon, Afghanistan will pass Vietnam as America’s longest war.
The Vietnam War’s length can be measured in many ways. The formal beginning of U.S. involvement often is dated to Aug. 7, 1964, when Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, giving the president a virtual carte blanche to wage war. By the time the last U.S. ground combat troops were withdrawn in March 1973, the war had lasted 103 months.
Hampson visited several American communities particularly affected in the two wars (and in the Iraq War) and wrote about them in his article.
It’s long since time to bring the troops home.
Don’t forget all those who have died during the wars but were not soldiers and weren’t Americans.
This post originally appeared on Starboard Broadside.