The U.S. Military has had zero combat deaths in Afghanistan over the past year, with the last deaths occurring prior to Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban.
Army Sergeants Antonio Rodriguez and Javier Gutierrez passed away on February 8, 2020 during combat, marking the last deaths of American soldiers.
Not long after these deaths, Trump and the Taliban negotiated a peace deal that would have American-led forces withdrawn from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021. This agreement is also contingent on the Taliban’s willingness to adhere to the terms of the negotiation, which include not attacking foreign troops and banning terrorist groups from using the nation as a training ground. The latter point relates back to the 9/11 terrorists’ training in Afghanistan.
A side deal wherein the Taliban helps reduce Afghanistan’s overall violence levels may also exist, though it is not present in the formal document signed last year.
However, with the Biden administration, it is unclear what may occur with this deal, particularly when considering a congressional panel report that was just released last week. This report references “an inflexible timeline but on all parties fulfilling their commitments,” such as the Taliban’s pledge to reduce terrorism and participate in political compromise.
Furthermore, the report also called for the withdrawal deadline to be pushed more into the future.
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security advisor, noted that Biden was “taking a hard look at the extent to which the Taliban are complying” with the terms of the deal before withdrawing all the troops.
Over the past year, the total number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan has reduced from 13,000 to 2,500 by mid-January of this year, and the remaining troops are scheduled to come home in May.
If Biden does not follow through with Trump’s timeline regarding the withdrawal of American troops by May, the Taliban has threatened to “kill them.”
A former Marine and Afghanistan veteran, Adam Weinstein, is a current research fellow for the Middle East at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, and he recently warned that remaining in Afghanistan beyond the established deadline could result in “U.S. troops back into a violent counterinsurgency.”
Since the start of the war in October 2001, a total of 2.300 soldiers have passed away in Afghanistan.