Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

President Donald Trump committed the United States to an open-ended conflict in Afghanistan, reversing course from his campaign pledges and signaling he will send troops to America’s longest war in “a fight to win.”

U.S. officials have said Trump has given Defense Secretary James Mattis the authority to send about 4,000 additional troops to add to the roughly 8,400 already in Afghanistan.

Trump ran for the presidency calling for a swift U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and he acknowledged that he was going against his instincts in approving the new campaign plan sought by his military advisers. He now inherits the same challenges as George W. Bush and Barack Obama, including a stubborn Taliban insurgency and a weak, divided government in Kabul. He is laying the groundwork for greater U.S. involvement without a clear end in sight or providing specific benchmarks for success.

The Taliban government was overthrown by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001 but U.S. forces have been bogged down there ever since. About 2,400 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan.

Taliban advances are raising the specter of a repeat of 1996, when Islamist militants seized power and provided al Qaeda with a sanctuary in which to plot the Sept. 11, 2011, attacks in New York and Washington. Moreover, the Afghan government is plagued by ethnic and political rifts and corruption and controls less than 60 percent of the country, similar circumstances during the Taliban’s 1996 takeover. (Reuters)

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Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

U.S. soldier Nicholas Dickhut from 5-20 infantry Regiment attached to 82nd Airborne points his rifle at a doorway after coming under fire by the Taliban while on patrol in Zharay district in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, April 26, 2012. (Photo: Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

United States Army 10th Mountain Division soldier Jorge Avino from Miami, Florida carves the body count that their mortar team has chalked up on a rock, March 9, 2002 near the villages of Sherkhankheyl, Marzak and Bobelkiel, in Afghanistan. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

U.S. Army soldiers from the 2nd Platoon, B battery 2-8 field artillery, fire a howitzer artillery piece at Seprwan Ghar forward fire base in Panjwai district, Kandahar province southern Afghanistan, June 12, 2011. (Photo: Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

A wounded Canadian soldier from the NATO-led coalition crawls for cover seconds after his position was hit by a Taliban shell fired from an 82-millimeter recoilless rifle during an ambush in Zhari district of Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, Oct. 23, 2007. (Photo: Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

Ryan Lemm, 4, salutes as he is carried by New York Police Department officer John McCrossen as he watches the casket of his father, NYPD officer Joseph Lemm, who was killed on duty in Afghanistan, following funeral services in the Manhattan borough of New York, Dec. 30, 2015. McCrossen was Lemm’s partner in the NYPD Warrant Squad. Lemm was one of six U.S. troops killed by a suicide bomber near Bagram air base in Afghanistan. (Photo: Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

U.S. Marines, shown through a night vision scope, escort battle field detainees into a detention center at Kandahar International Airport, Dec. 18, 2001. (Photo: USMC, Sgt. Thomas Michael Corcoran/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

A U.S. Marine from the First Battalion Eighth Marines Alpha Company looks out as an evening storm gathers above an outpost near Kunjak in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province, Feb. 22, 2011. (Photo: Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

U.S. troops from the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) light candles during Christmas Eve celebrations at Bagram Airfield, north of Kabul, Dec. 24, 2014. (Photo: Mohammad Ismail/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Chris Sanderson, 24, from Flemington, New Jersey shouts as he tries to protect an Afghan man and his child after Taliban fighters opened fire in the town of Marjah, in Nad Ali district, Helmand province, Feb. 13, 2010. (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

A group of men detained for suspected Taliban activities are held for questioning at a schoolhouse in the village of Kuhak in Arghandab District, north of Kandahar July 9, 2010. (Photo: Bob Strong/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

Lesleigh Coyer, 25, of Saginaw, Michigan, lies down in front of the grave of her brother, Ryan Coyer, who served with the U.S. Army in both Iraq and Afghanistan, at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, on March 11, 2013. Coyer died of complications from an injury sustained in Afghanistan. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s Alpha Battery, 425 Field Artillery, 3rd brigade of 10th Mountain Division based in Fort Drum, New York, fire their 155 mm Howitzer in Cop Cherokee base in Kherwar district in Logar province Oct. 4, 2009. (Photo: Nikola Solic/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

U.S. soldiers turn away as a U.S. Black Hawk helicopter takes off from a U.S. base in the Jaji district of the southeastern Paktia province, near the Afghan-Pakistan border Jan. 27, 2008. (Photo: Ahmad Masood/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

US Marines from Charlie 1/1 of the 15th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) fill sand bags around their light mortar position on the front lines of the US Marine Corps base in southern Afghanistan Dec. 1, 2001 nearby a cardboard sign reminding everyone that the Taliban forces could be anywhere and everywhere. (Photo: Jim Hollander/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

A French sniper (R) looks through his rifle’s scope while keeping watch over Qarabagh district, about 40 km (25 miles) north of Kabul, Nov. 20, 2007. (Photo: Ahmad Masood/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

Members of the U.S. Navy carry a comrade wounded by an explosion to a medevac helicopter in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, Oct. 2, 2010. (Photo: Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

U.S. marines fire during a Taliban ambush as they carry out an operation to clear an area in Helmand province, Oct. 9, 2009. (Photo: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

Paratroopers from Chosen Company of the 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry board a waiting CH-47 Chinook helicopter as they begin a helicopter assault mission at Combat Outpost Herrera in Afghanistan’s Paktiya Province, July 15, 2012. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

Marine reinforcements fly towards an area somewhere near Kandahar, Dec. 10, 2001. The Marines have pushed closer to Kandahar to continue their mission of interdicting lines of escape. (Photo: Earnie Grafton, The San Diego Union-Tribune/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

U.S. troops assess the damage to an armoured vehicle of NATO-led military coalition after a suicide attack in Kandahar province, Afghanistan Aug. 2, 2017. (Photo: Ahmad Nadeem/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

A Stryker armored vehicle from the U.S. Army’s MGS Platoon, Alpha Company, 4-23 Infantry Battalion, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team fires a 120mm mortar during a night patrol in Kandahar, on April 27, 2010. (Photo: Tim Wimborne/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

An Afghan girl peers out from behind a wall at passing U.S. Marines
driving inside light armored vehicles down Route 4 outside the Kandahar airport, Dec. 27, 2001. (Photo: Earnie Grafton/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

Afghan policemen stand next to a captured Taliban fighter after a gun battle near the village of Shajoy in Zabol province March 22, 2008. (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

A U.S. Army soldier with Charlie Company, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division blows a bubble with his chewing gum during a mission near Command Outpost Pa’in Kalay in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province Feb. 3, 2013. (Photo: Andrew Burton/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

Susan Myers, wife of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, pats his casket during the end of a full military honors funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, Aug. 14, 2014. Greene was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month and is the highest ranking U.S. military officer killed in combat since the Vietnam War. (Photo: Larry Downing/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Captain Michael Kelvington, commander of the Battle company, 1-508 Parachute Infantry battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, bows next to remains of Gulam Dostager, a member of Afghan Local Police who was killed in the blast of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) during the joint Tor Janda (Black Flag in Pashtu) operation, in Zahri district of Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan on May 25, 2012. (Photo: Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

A rocket fired by U.S. soldiers from Dragon Troop of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment explodes next to a destroyed bus at operating base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan Dec. 31, 2014. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

A U.S. soldier, wounded by sniper fire, is evacuated by his comrades in the village of Bargematal, Nuristan province, Aug. 25, 2009. (Photo: Oleg Popov/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

A US Marine Humvee kicks up dust as it crosses a group of Marine LAVs (Light Armoured Vehicles) as it leaves on patrol from the Marine base in southern Afghanistan Dec. 2, 2001. (Photo: Jim Hollander/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

Two Northern Alliance soldiers watch as the dust and smoke rises afterexplosions in Taliban positions on Kalakata hill, near the village of Ai-Khanum in northern Afghanistan, Nov. 1, 2001. (Photo: Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

Smoke rises from burning NATO supply trucks in Samangan province, July 18, 2012. A bomb planted by the Taliban destroyed 22 NATO trucks carrying supplies to their forces in northern Afghanistan. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

U.S. soldiers attend to a wounded soldier at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan June 30, 2015. At least 17 people were wounded in a suicide bomb attack on NATO troops as their truck convoy passed down the main road running between Kabul’s airport and the U.S. embassy, police and health ministry officials said. (Photo: Omar Sobhani/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

A U.S. soldier from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment pays his respects during a memorial for Specialist Wyatt Martin and Sergeant First Class Ramon Morris at Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Dec. 23, 2014. Specialist Martin and Sergeant First Class Ramon were killed on December 12th by an improvised explosive device while on patrol near Bagram Air Field. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

U.S. SPC Henry Rosenquist of 2-12 Infantry 4BCT-4ID Task Force Mountain Warrior sits in the computer room in Honaker Miracle camp at the Pesh valley of Kunar Province, on Aug. 13, 2009. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

A U.S. soldier of 2-12 Infantry 4BCT-4ID Task Force Mountain Warrior takes a break during a night mission near Honaker Miracle camp at the Pesh valley of Kunar Province, on Aug. 12, 2009. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

Two 500 pound bombs explode at dusk on a Taliban fighting position near Blocking Position one above Kamdesh in Afghanistan’s Nuristan Province, on June 11, 2012. (Photo: Tim Wimborne/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

A U.S. Army medevac crew member attempts to revive a Marine mortally wounded in an IED (improvised explosion device) blast near the town of Marjah in Helmand province, Aug. 22, 2010. (Photo: Bob Strong/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

U.S. Marines from MP Company, 1st Marine Division attached to 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, smoke cigars as they play cards at AHP station in Nimroz province, southern Afghanistan, on Jan. 14, 2010. (Photo: Marko Djurica/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

U.S soldiers blow up a roadside bomb set up by Taliban fighters near the town of Walli Was in Paktika province, near the border with Pakistan, Nov. 4, 2012. (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

Scenes from 16 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

Captain Melvin Cabebe with the US Army’s 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division stands near a burning M-ATV armored vehicle after it struck an improvised explosive device (IED) near Combat Outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar, on July 23, 2010. (Photo: Bob Strong/Reuters)

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