When the NATO-led international combat force in Afghanistan formally ended its operations December 28, President Obama said, “The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.”
Since October 2001, troops and civilian personnel from more than 50 countries have worked with Afghans to rebuild their country after decades of war and repressive Taliban rule. These statistics tell the story of their accomplishments:
- Afghan school enrollment has increased tenfold, with nearly 10 million children now signed up.
- 40 percent of those students are girls, children once forbidden to get an education under the Taliban.
- Maternal mortality has fallen from 16 percent to 3 percent.
- Under-5 mortality has dropped from 25 percent to less than 10 percent.
- Once forbidden from walking in public without a male relative by their side, women can now become doctors who treat male and female patients.
- Women hold 28 percent of the Afghan Parliament’s seats.
- Trained Afghan forces have taken the lead for their country’s security.
- Afghanistan’s people have held historic elections and completed the first democratic transfer of power in their country’s history.
President Obama said Afghanistan is still a dangerous place and that Afghans continue to make “tremendous sacrifices” to defend their country. The Afghan government has invited the United States and other countries to maintain a limited military presence to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al-Qaida.
“Our personnel will continue to face risks, but this reflects the enduring commitment of the United States to the Afghan people and to a united, secure and sovereign Afghanistan that is never again used as a source of attacks against our nation,” Obama said.