In the weeks following the attacks of Sept. 11, the United States put boots on the ground in Afghanistan. That was 17 years ago, with thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars spent – yet there’s still no clear end in sight.
The U.S. is currently spending an estimated $45 billion a year on operations in Afghanistan with about 15,000 troops stationed in the country. But to what end?
A recent survey commissioned by RealClearPolitics and the Charles Koch Institute found that civilians and veterans say it’s time to change the status quo in our Afghanistan strategy — or lack of a strategy.
This study found that 59 percent of veterans surveyed said the United States has no “clear strategic objective” in Afghanistan. Fifty-three perfect of civilians agreed with that statement.
With no clear objective, it’s not surprising that 40 percent of veterans said our military involvement in Afghanistan has been either unsuccessful or very unsuccessful. Another 33 percent said it’s been neither successful nor unsuccessful.
All that being said, military veterans don’t necessarily think it was a mistake to go to Afghanistan in 2001. Fifty-four percent say it was the right choice, to 30 percent of civilians who agreed. But vets and civilians alike are ready for a change in the Afghanistan ground game.
When asked about troop levels in Afghanistan, 49 percent of veterans and 51 percent of civilians say the U.S. should either decrease troop levels or remove all troops in the next year. When asked about the next five years, those numbers increased to 64 percent of veterans and 63 percent of civilians favoring fewer or no troops in Afghanistan.
The results of this study are clear — from the average citizen to the long-serving war fighter, Americans are ready for a major change in our Afghanistan policy.
Read more about the Afghanistan survey.