The war in Afghanistan is 15 years old — here are 29 photos of one of the US’s longest wars

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REUTERS

From October 7, 2001, until December 28, 2014, US and NATO forces carried out combat operations in Afghanistan.

While those operations were meant to end and the US had begun withdrawing troops from the country by the end of 2014, the Taliban continued success on the battlefield, coupled with the ineffective performance Afghan security forces, led the US to continue its deployment in the country, which has seen decades of wars fought by numerous combatants.

Overall, the US has a force of nearly 10,000 Afghanistan, though President Barack Obama intended to reduce that force to 5,500 in 2017, the continued Taliban threat has caused a change of plans, with some 8,400 troops slated to remain in Afghanistan at the end of next year.

Most NATO forces withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

By the end of that year, foreign-military losses amounted to 3,500 killed and 33,000 wounded. Those loses included 2,400 dead and 20,000 wounded for the US; 453 and 7,500 for Great Britain; 159 and 1,859 for Canada; and 89 and 725 for France, though those numbers do not include private-security contractors.

Since 2001, the US has spent about $110 billion on Afghanistan’s reconstruction, more than the cost of the Marshall Plan that reconstruct Europe after World War II. Washington has allocated more than $60 billion since 2002 to train and equip Afghan troops.

The US money spent in Afghanistan has yielded limited results, however.

Security in the country remains precarious and the Taliban is believed to control more territory in Afghanistan than at any time since 2001. A record 5,100 civilian casualties, including 1,600 deaths, were recorded in the first half of 2016, according to the UN.

Below, you can see a selection of photos documenting the last 15 years the US’s war in Afghanistan.


Osama bin Laden is seen at an undisclosed location in this television image broadcast Sunday, October 7, 2001. Bin Laden praised God for the September 11 terrorist attacks and swore America “will never dream of security” until “the infidel’s armies leave the land of Muhammad,” in a videotaped statement aired after the strike launched Sunday by the US and Britain in Afghanistan.


The US and Britain on October 7, 2001, launched a first wave of air strikes against Afghanistan and then US President George W. Bush said the action heralded a “sustained, comprehensive and relentless” campaign against terrorism.

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A US Air force B-52 bomber drops a load of M117 750-pound bombs over a bombing range in the US in this undated file photo. B-52s, B-1, and B-2 stealth bombers are some of the aircraft that were reportedly used in the attacks on Afghanistan.
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REUTERS/USAF handout

Eyewitnesses said they saw flashes and heard explosions over the Afghan capital of Kabul in the first phase of what the US has said will be a protracted and wide-ranging war against terrorism and the states that support it. The attack had been prepared since the September 11 suicide attacks on the US.


Mohammed Anwar, left, and an unidentified boy in Kabul, Afghanistan, display pieces of shrapnel from bombs dropped Monday morning, October 8, 2001.

The US and Britain hit Afghanistan and key installations of the Taliban regime with cruise missiles Sunday night for harboring suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden. Many residents of Afghanistan seem unfazed by the bombing after living in war like conditions for more than 20 years.


Two Northern Alliance soldiers watch as the dust and smoke rises after explosions in Taliban positions on Kalakata hill, near the village of Ai-Khanum in northern Afghanistan, November 1, 2001.

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Reuters

The Pentagon said on B-52s dropped heavy loads of bombs, a tactic known as carpet bombing, on Taliban troops north of Kabul as a result of improved targeting intelligence, partly from US special forces on the ground.


US Marine PV2 Eileen M. Schnetzko stands on guard at Bagram airport, March 2, 2002. US troops were based at Bagram, north of Kabul.

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REUTERS/Mario Laporta

There were some 4,000 US troops based in Afghanistan as part of the international war against terrorism.


Land-mine detectors stand by as a US Army soldier, right, maneuvers Hermes the robot into a cave to detect mines, traps, and other unexploded ordnance as well as weapons or equipment possibly hidden by Taliban or al-Qaida fugitives in the eastern border town of Qiqay, Afghanistan, Monday, July 29, 2002.

The war in Afghanistan was the first time robots were used by the US military as tools for combat. Proponents of the robots believed sending them first into caves, buildings, or other dark areas will help prevent US casualties.


Afghan villagers watch as US soldiers from the 82nd airborne’s Bravo Company search a house for suspected Taliban and al-Qaida forces in the central part of the Baghran river valley during the finishing stages of “Operation Viper” in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan on Monday, February 24, 2003.

Suspected enemy fighters were spotted taking ambush positions in the area a few weeks ago by US troops as they went on patrol as part of the ongoing war against terrorism.


A US special forces soldier, left, watches while Afghan militia wait in line to turn in their weapons at a military base in Kunduz, Afghanistan, October 22, 2003.

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REUTERS/Richard Vogel/Pool

A long-awaited UN-sponsored project to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate 100,000 soldiers across Afghanistan was under way in the north, a key step that was hoped would bring eventual peace to this war-torn country. The “New Beginnings Programme,” which lets soldiers exchange their weapons for jobs, began in the northern province of Kunduz.


A Chinook helicopter hovers over US troops in the village of Jegdelic, about 56 miles southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, in this picture taken on December 24, 2004.

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REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

A US military helicopter carrying up to 20 American troops crashed during an anti-guerrilla mission in eastern Afghanistan, US officials said. The fate of those on board was not immediately known.


A US soldier inspects a wedding car at a checkpoint in a crossroad near Bagram air base and detention center, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, July 12, 2005.


Then-US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, center, presents a medal of valor to Sgt. Kenneth Stover, left, as soldiers watch from a rooftop during a medal ceremony in Khandahar, Afghanistan, December 22, 2005.

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REUTERS/Jim Young

Rumsfeld said a rapid withdrawal of US forces from Iraq or Afghanistan would spawn more terrorism in the region and raise the risk of attacks on the US. Addressing US troops on the second day of a visit to Afghanistan, Rumsfeld said, “there are some in Washington who are questioning why our country is fighting this difficult war on terror half a world away.”


US soldiers have lunch at the shopping area of the Kandahar military base, south Afghanistan, Wednesday, August 2, 2006.


An Afghan boy looks at US soldiers as they patrol a village near the town of Makkor, southwest of Kabul, April 20, 2007.

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REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

A US soldier works with a shovel as a vehicle is stuck in mud, some 70 km south of Ghazni, southeastern Afghanistan, April 23, 2007.

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REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

British and US soldiers control the crowd during medical assistance in Kabul, February 26, 2008.

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REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Sgt. William Olas Bee, a US Marine from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, has a close call after Taliban fighters open fire near Garmsir in Helmand Province, May 2008.

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REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, left, and US Army General David McKiernan, the top US and NATO Commander in Afghanistan, right, listen to Afghan governors and local officials during their visit to Forward Operating Base Airborne in the mountains of Wardak Province, Afghanistan, May 8, 2009.

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REUTERS/Jason Reed

Gates on May 11, 2009, replaced the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, US Army General David McKiernan, less than a year after he took over the war effort there. Gates said he asked for McKiernan’s resignation and recommended Army Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a former commander of special-operations forces, to take over command of 45,000 US troops and about 32,000 other troops from non-US NATO countries.


US soldiers of the 2-12 Infantry, 4th Brigade prepare to tow a broken-down improvised-explosive-device (IED) detecting Huskie vehicle during a patrol in the Pesh Valley in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, July 30, 2009.

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REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

US soldiers kneel during a memorial ceremony for Capt. Daniel Whitten and Pvt. First Class Zachary Lovejoy at the Remote Sweeney FOB in Zabul province, southern Afghanistan, February 8, 2010.

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REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Capt. Whitten from Grimes, Iowa, and Pfc. Lovejoy from Albuquerque, New Mexico, were killed by an IED on February 2, when on patrol in southern Afghanistan.


NATO soldiers play table soccer under flashlights at a military outpost near the village of Bazaar e Panjwaii, in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province, August 2010.

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REUTERS/Bob Strong

US Army medic Staff Sergeant Rahkeem Francis with Charlie Company, 6-101 Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, treats an Afghan boy with a broken leg onboard a medevac helicopter near the town of Marjah in Helmand Province, August 19, 2010.

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REUTERS/Bob Strong

US Army soldiers from the 2nd Platoon, B battery 2-8 field artillery, fire a howitzer artillery piece at Seprwan Ghar forward fire base in Panjwai district, Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, June 12, 2011.

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REUTERS

An Afghan shepherd walks with a flock of sheep past a US Marines armored vehicle outside the Camp Gorgak in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, July 5, 2011.

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REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

First Sergeant Mac Miller from Comanche Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, lift weights at Forward Operating Base Connolly in Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan, March 3, 2012.

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REUTERS/Erik De Castro

A US Army soldier and a member of the Afghan Uniform Police arm wrestle prior to a joint patrol near Command Outpost AJK (short for Azim-Jan-Kariz, a nearby village) in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, January 28, 2013.

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REUTERS/Andrew Burton

A US service member takes a “selfie” as President Barack Obama shakes hands with troops after delivering remarks at Bagram Air Base in Kabul, May 25, 2014.

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REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Afghan children gesture at US soldiers as they stand guard near an Afghan police checkpoint during a mission near Forward Operating Base Fenty in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, December 19, 2014.

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REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

US soldiers attend to a wounded soldier at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 30, 2015.

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REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

At least 17 people were wounded in a suicide-bomb attack on NATO troops as their truck convoy passed down the main road running between Kabul’s airport and the US embassy, police and health ministry officials said.


A US soldier keeps watch at the site of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 4, 2016.

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REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

A large explosion struck close to Kabul airport on Monday, causing at least 10 casualties near to the area where a suicide bomber blew himself up earlier in the day in the latest in a series of attacks in the Afghan capital over the previous week.