This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
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While you might be forgiven for thinking that the war in Afghanistan is over because it rarely makes it to the front pages of newspapers or a lead item on the nightly news, recent data from the United States Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) shows that such is clearly not the case. The war, now in its 19th year, is still going strong from the viewpoint of the United States Air Force as you will see in this posting.
Let's open with this article from Janes:
It is important to keep in mind that up until December 2014, the United States was operating in Afghanistan with its allies in the International Security Assistance Force. Since then, the United States and Afghani forces (AAF) are the only two nations flying strike missions in Afghanistan.
Now, let's look at the actual statistics from the United States Air Forces Central Command or AFCENT. Here is a graphic showing the Airpower Statistics for the period between 2013 and 2019:
At 8,733 sorties using manned aircraft (an average of 23.9 sorties per day over the entire year), the total number of sorties in 2019 was the highest since 2014 and was up 89.7 percent from the low point in 2017. As well, in 2019, the number of sorties with at least one weapon being released was at the highest level going all the way back to 2011, hitting 2,434 or 72.9 percent higher than the previous seven year high in 2013 as shown here:
Additionally, the number of weapons released in 2019 was at a seven year high, reaching 7,423 or 683.8 percent higher than the seven year low of 947 weapons in 2015.
The United States Air Forces Central Command is quite proud of its bombing abilities in Afghanistan. In fact, in December 2018, AFCENT published a news item cleverly entitled "Life of a bomb: from 'cradle to grave'" to celebrate the bombing that killed a high-stakes member of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, Sultan Aziz Azam who was killed on December 23, 2018:
In this article, the author Senior Airman Kaylee Dubois of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs department outlines the journey that a bomb takes from receipt at the Bagram Airport to assembling the bomb for use then to loading it onto an aircraft. Here is the closing line of the article:
"Every pair of hands guiding he bomb along the way makes a difference every single day for all those serving in any capacity at Bagram and beyond."
….and apparently it makes a big difference to those Afghanis that the bombs are targeting as well!
Statistics don't lie and it would certainly appear that, given the Taliban's increasing hold on large parts of Afghanistan, the United States military is nowhere close to leaving Afghanistan with total appropriations reaching $978 billion (FY2001 through FY2020) and killing more than 43,000 Afghani civilians as shown on this table:
Afghanistan – the longest war that shows few signs of ending.
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