President Obama Reverses Course on Ending America's Longest War in Afghanistan

Posted Dec. 10, 2014

MP3 Interview with Matthew Hoh, senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, conducted by Scott Harris


On Dec. 8, Western military commanders gathered in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul to symbolically lower the flag, closing the joint U.S. and NATO headquarters for the International Security Assistance Force, signaling the coming end to the coalition’s combat role in the wartorn country. According to U.S. General John Campbell, commander of the ISAF, coalition forces will soon be downsized to a force of about 3,000 soldiers to train and support Afghan troops.

While the ceremony in Kabul was in sync with President Obama’s May 27 pledge to end U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, according the New York Times, the president signed a secret order in November that laid out a very different scenario. That order authorizes the U.S. military to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups that are deemed a threat to American troops or the Afghan government. The reports says that the new authorization also allows “American jets, bombers and drones to support Afghan troops on combat missions.”

Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on Dec. 6 that up to 1,000 more U.S. soldiers will remain in Afghanistan than originally outlined, totaling an estimated 10,800 into next year. An agreement signed in September by Washington and newly-elected Afghan president Ashraf Ghani authorizes American forces to be deployed in Afghanistan for at least another 10 years.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Matthew Hoh, senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, a former Marine captain who in 2009 resigned his State Department post in protest of American policy in Afghanistan. Here, he takes a critical look at President Obama’s recently revised strategy in the Afghan conflict, America’s longest war. For more information on the Center for International Policy, visit

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