Operation Freedom's Sentinel

Summary

Operation Freedom's Sentinel
Part of the War on Terror, War in Afghanistan, Resolute Support Mission
Tip of the Spear!.jpg
A U.S. Army crew chief with 17th Cavalry Regiment surveys the area over Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Date1 January 2015 – 30 August 2021
(6 years, 7 months and 2 weeks)
Location
Result Operation failed
Belligerents

 NATO
 United States
Resolute Support Mission

 Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Afghanistan Taliban
 al-Qaeda


 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Commanders and leaders

United States CIC Joe Biden (2021)
United States CIC Donald J. Trump (2017–2021)
United States CIC Barack Obama (2014–2017)

United States United States Central Command:

NATO Resolute Support Mission:

Coalition:

Afghanistan Hibatullah Akhundzada
Afghanistan Akhtar Mansour 
Ayman al-Zawahiri


Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi
(2019–present)
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi 
(2014–19)
Hafiz Saeed Khan 
(2015–July 2016)
Abdul Haseeb Logari [2][3]
(2016–April 2017)
Abdul Rahman Ghaleb [4][5]
(April–July 2017)
Abu Saad Erhabi [6]
(July 2017–August 2018)
Zia ul-Haq
(August 2018–April 2019)
Abdullah Orokzai (POW)[7][8]
(April 2019–April 2020)
Qari Hekmat 
Mufti Nemat Surrendered
Dawood Ahmad Sofi 
Mohamed Zahran 

Ishfaq Ahmed Sofi 
Strength

Resolute Support Mission: 9592 troops from NATO and non-NATO countries (as of February 2021) [9]

Private contractors: 7,800 (as of July 2021)[10]

Afghanistan Afghan National Defense and Security Forces: 307,947 (as of January 28 2021) [11]
Unknown
Casualties and losses
See War in Afghanistan for full lists

Operation Freedom's Sentinel (OFS) was the official name used by the U.S. government for the mission succeeding Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in continuation of the War in Afghanistan as part of the larger Global War on Terrorism. Operation Freedom's Sentinel is part of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, which began on January 1, 2015. OFS had two components: counterterrorism and working with allies as part of Resolute Support.[12]

There were 16,551 NATO and non-NATO troops in Afghanistan around February 2020.[13] Around June 2020, that number dropped to 15,937.[14] In February 2021, there were 9592 NATO and non-NATO troops in Afghanistan.[15]

The self-reported strength of the Afghan National Security Forces consisted of more than 300,000 personnel during 2020.[16][17] These forces surrendered or fled to neighbouring countries during the August phase of the 2021 Taliban offensive, leaving nearly all of the country under Taliban control.

Operation Freedom Sentinel was expected to formally end on August 31, 2021, but concluded with the final withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan on August 30.[18]

Objectives

After thirteen years of Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S. military and NATO allies shifted focus from major military operations to a smaller role of NATO-led training and assistance.[19] While the bulk of the new mission was under the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission (RS), "a separate 'non-NATO' contingent of U.S. forces will participate in force protection, logistical support and counterterrorism activities."[19]

An October 1, 2015, statement by Gen. John F. Campbell, commander, Resolute Support Mission, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan/ISAF, defined the U.S. military's objectives. "U.S. forces are now carrying out two well-defined missions: a Counter-Terrorism (CT) mission against the remnants of Al-Qaeda and the Resolute Support TAA mission in support of Afghan security forces. Our CT and TAA efforts are concurrent and complementary. While we continue to attack the remnants of Al-Qaeda, we are also building the ANDSF so that they can secure the Afghan people, win the peace, and contribute to stability throughout the region."[20]

When OFS started U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan were at 9,800 troops. General Campbell requested an additional 1,000 troops while NATO troop levels were built up to a force of about 13,500. His request was granted.[21] In 2019, U.S. troop levels were at 14,000 troops in combined support of NATO RS missions and OFS.[22] By January 2021, the U.S. had reduced its force level to 2,500 troops.[23] However, it was later revealed that U.S. has 1000 more troops, which include Special Operations forces, than it disclosed in Afghanistan.[24]

Moreover, as of January 2021, there were still approximately 18,000 military contractors, in which a third were U.S. citizens, in Afghanistan[25] President Biden stated on July 8, 2021, that the war in Afghanistan will officially conclude on August 31, 2021.[18] American airstrikes on Taliban members were projected to continue,[26] but ended with the fall of the Islamic Republic.[27]

Congressional reports

The Lead Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations (Lead IG) is responsible for submitting a quarterly report on OFS to Congress. The quarterly report describes activities in support of OFS, as well as the work of the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the United States Agency for International Development to promote the U.S. Government's policy goals in Afghanistan,[28]

Excerpts from the January 1, 2018–March 30, 2018 report:

“General John Nicholson Jr., Commander of Resolute Support and Commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) said this quarter that U.S. and Afghan forces were gaining momentum through the new South Asia strategy, and that the Taliban was shifting to "guerilla tactics and suicide attacks" because it was no longer able to carry out attacks to seize cities or districts. However, suicide attacks and bombings in Kabul and across Afghanistan resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties, and raised concerns among Afghans about whether the government can secure the country.”[28]

“The United States faces multiple challenges in Afghanistan. Previous Lead IG quarterly reports identified several challenges facing Afghanistan and the OFS mission, including preparing to hold safe, credible parliamentary elections, defeating ISIS-K, and pressuring Pakistan to eliminate safe havens. During the quarter, the United States and Afghanistan continued to seek to address these challenges, though with limited progress, as detailed throughout this report.[28]

This quarter, Lead IG agencies also observed the following emerging challenges that complicate the OFS mission and efforts to end the conflict:”

  • Stemming the Attacks in Kabul
  • Managing Increased Violence in Afghanistan
  • Pursuing Peace[28]

See also

Operation Allies Refuge – part of the evacuation from Afghanistan

References

  1. ^ "News – Resolute Support Mission". Archived from the original on 28 February 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  2. ^ "Army Rangers killed in Afghanistan were possible victims of friendly fire". Army Times. 28 April 2017.
  3. ^ Barbara Starr; Ralph Ellis (8 May 2017). "ISIS leader in Afghanistan was killed in raid, US confirms". CNN.
  4. ^ Browne, Ryan (14 July 2017). "US kills leader of ISIS in Afghanistan". CNN. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Statement by Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana W. White on death of ISIS-K leader in Afghanistan". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  6. ^ "ISIL leader in Afghanistan killed in air raids". aljazeera.com.
  7. ^ "UN: Islamic State replaced leader in Afghanistan after visit from central leadership | FDD's Long War Journal". longwarjournal.org. July 30, 2019.
  8. ^ "Afghan forces announce arrest of local ISIL leader".
  9. ^ https://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/2021/2/pdf/2021-02-RSM-Placemat.pdf
  10. ^ Shinkman, Paul D. (July 21, 2021). "Number of Private Contractors in Afghanistan Drops Precipitously as Biden Pushes Withdrawal Plan". U.S. News & World Report.
  11. ^ https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/quarterlyreports/2021-04-30qr.pdf
  12. ^ "Meet Operation Freedom's Sentinel, the Pentagon's new mission in Afghanistan". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-10-07.
  13. ^ "Resolute Support Mission (RSM): Key Facts and Figures February 2020" (PDF).
  14. ^ "Resolute Support Mission (RSM): Key Facts and Figures June 2020" (PDF).
  15. ^ "Resolute Support Mission (RSM): Key Facts and Figures February 2021" (PDF).
  16. ^ "SIGAR Quarterly Report April 30, 2020" (PDF).
  17. ^ "SIGAR: QUARTERLY REPORT TO THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS April 2021" (PDF).
  18. ^ a b "The U.S. military finishes its evacuation, and an era ends in Afghanistan". AP NEWS. 2021-08-30. Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  19. ^ a b "NATO combat mission formally ends in Afghanistan". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-10-07.
  20. ^ "Operation Freedom's Sentinel and our continued security investment in Afghanistan". www.army.mil. Retrieved 2018-10-07.
  21. ^ Sisk, Richard. "Amid Confusion, DoD Names New Mission 'Operation Freedom's Sentinel'". Military.com. Retrieved 2018-10-07.
  22. ^ "Operation Freedom's Sentinel: Lead Inspector General Report to the United States Congress, April 1, 2019–June 30, 2019" (PDF). Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General. 20 August 2019. p. 47. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  23. ^ Ali, Idrees (2021-01-15). "U.S. troops in Afghanistan now down to 2,500, lowest since 2001: Pentagon". Reuters. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  24. ^ Gibbons-Neff, Thomas; Cooper, Helene; Schmitt, Eric (2021-03-14). "U.S. Has 1,000 More Troops in Afghanistan Than It Disclosed". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-05-06.
  25. ^ "Troop levels are down, but US says over 18,000 contractors remain in Afghanistan". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2021-05-06.
  26. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/07/25/us-airstrikes-afghanistan-taliban-mckenzie/
  27. ^ "Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby Holds a Press Briefing". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 2021-08-20.
  28. ^ a b c d "OPERATION FREEDOM'S SENTINEL REPORT TO THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS JANUARY 1, 2018‒MARCH 31, 2018" (PDF).