Troops Leaving, But US Commits Billions to Fund Afghan Fighting

$3.3 billion annually to go to Afghan military

US troops leaving Afghanistan was meant to mark the end of the war in Afghanistan. As it stands, however, it seems that the administration is going through any hoops possible that might keep the war going and the US deeply invested in it.

The latest sign of the Afghan War to come was envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and a delegation committing the US to $3.3 billion annually in direct funding to the Afghan military. This is just one aspect of all the US aid to Afghanistan still being negotiated.

The US spent decades designing an Afghan military that the country could never afford, and it was assumed the US would be on the hook for some subsidy. The sheer size of the funding, however, points to a US vision that they’re going to keep fighting a war, and doing it on the US dime.

This is a problem more than just for the $3.3 billion annually. US officials, both military and diplomatic, have insisted that they will be supporting the Afghan government in the long run, just in ways that won’t require keeping the US troops on the ground there.

Everything that is going to entail remains to be seen, but the Pentagon is envisioning $8.9 billion in “direct war costs” for Afghanistan in 2022. That’s direct war costs for a war that’s supposed to be over.

The Pentagon has called what’s going to happen an “over-the-horizon capability” involving forces positioned outside Afghanistan. Yet if this is a direct war cost, these forces are clearly going to be doing something direct in the war. The definitely-not-over war.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of