It started with a terrorist atrocity that claimed the lives of almost 3000 people from over 90 countries including 67 Britons - 9/11 as it became known as. A terrorist attack that united the world shoulder to shoulder with the United States.
As the President of the United States, George W. Bush declared the 'war on terror' the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair commented on helping a friend in need. Less than a month after 9/11 Operation Enduring Freedom was launched. The aim of the mission was to capture Al Qaeda leaders, destroy terrorist training camps, remove the Taliban from power and create a democratic state. The war in Afghanistan has lasted ten years and it could continue until 2014 or beyond. So far during the conflict 382 British service men and women have been killed with some 4000 being injured. Most of those killed (198) were killed via improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Afghanistan has changed within the last ten years. There has been a change of government and Osama Bin Laden and many other Al Qaeda leaders have been killed. But there is still a lot of work to do to rebuild an Afghanistan free from Al Qaeda. I don't think there will be an Afghanistan without the Taliban and it may well be that in order to rebuild the country this may have to involve negotiations with terrorists.
Tens of thousands of coalition troops have fought in Afghanistan since 2001 with nearly 3000 members of the allied forces killed and over 20,000 injured. Afghanistan in 2001 is not Afghanistan in 2011 - there are different leaders in both Britain and America and some of the Al Qaeda big hitters have been taken out of the picture. President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron have indicated that troops will be pulling out of Afghanistan in the next few years, but it should not be as simple as that. Simply pulling out could mean the re-emergence of the Taliban. It should be a gradual withdrawal and it should only happen once there is a fully effective Afghan army, government and police force which there currently isn't. The war in Afghanistan may not be popular with the British public but withdrawing without fully completing the mission may well mean those soldiers who have died have died in vain.
Out of the 382 British service men and women killed in the war 32 were 19 or under whilst 260 were aged between 20 and 29. They are incredibly young yet brave service men who gave their lives in order to defeat terrorists. Like everyday, we remember those troops not just British but of the allied forces - that have either been injured in the line of duty or have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Lest we forget
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