Diego Ibarra Sanchez

Photographer; Educator; Video journalist
   
In Afghanistan, American Special Forces ´s Presence winds down
Location: Beirut, Lebanon
Nationality: Spanish
Biography: www.diegoibarra.com Diego Ibarra Sánchez is a documentary photographer, filmmaker , and educator, based in Lebanon, who specializes in in-depth long-form visual stories.   He has been contributing to THE NEW YORK TIMES since 2012,... MORE
Public Story
In Afghanistan, American Special Forces ´s Presence winds down
Copyright Diego Ibarra 2022
Updated Aug 2021
Topics Photography, Spotlight
The US government has begun its gradual military drawdown in Afghanistan, bringing to an end combat operations there nearly 13 years after al-Qaeda's strike against the US on 9/11. In June 2011, President Obama announced his plan to begin the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. After that, he revealed his long-awaited plan for Afghanistan on, announcing that a residual force of 9,800 U.S. troops will remain there for one year following the end of combat operations in December 2014. That number will be cut in half at the end of 2015, and reduced at the end of 2016 to a small military presence at the U.S. Embassy.

The American Special Forces teams have over the past decade become a central part of the local security landscape in Afghanistan. The 12-man teams are embedded in remote areas with a high insurgent threat, and they train indigenous police and elite Afghan units while coordinating the efforts of the local government and security bureaucracies. They also hunt down Taliban figures.

More than ever, the Special Forces are trying to have their Afghan counterparts take the lead. While that has always ostensibly been the plan, it only really began to be a focus this year, when it dawned on commanders that one way or another they were leaving. The American team captain in Koh-e-Safi acknowledged that it had been hard to keep his men from going out on missions.

Meantime, the present situation in Afghanistan is quite problematic. Civilians seem to have paid the heaviest price in the Afghan war, and the death toll of those not involved in the conflict continues to rise. The war in Afghanistan continues taking and destroying lives. Civilians have been killed by crossfire, improvised explosive devices, assassination and bombing.


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