2020 Country Brief: Afghanistan

Afghan flag shutterstock 161988254

Takeaways

After 19 years of war in Afghanistan and a peace agreement signed with the Taliban, it’s time for the United States to withdraw. Although the United States has slowly reduced troops in Afghanistan, the Trump Administration has left the remaining troops vulnerable to the Taliban and to Putin’s Russia, which is paying bounties to Afghans for murdering American soldiers.

As we leave Afghanistan, the United States must:

  • Give support to the Afghan government to reach a successful peace agreement with the Taliban;
  • Sunset the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that authorized open-ended and unending US military operations;
  • Reduce military spending to reflect the end of the mission; and
  • Hold the Russian government accountable for attacks on US soldiers.

The US war in Afghanistan has lasted through three entire presidential administrations. The agreement Trump signed with the Taliban leaves a lot of room for the United States to stay indefinitely. We should not be in Afghanistan through a fourth Administration.

The United States’ history in Afghanistan includes America’s longest war.

American involvement in Afghanistan has a tumultuous history. In the 1980s, the United States backed insurgents against the Soviet occupation. Then, after the Soviet withdrawal in the 1990s, the Taliban took power, bringing repressive rule and establishing a safe haven from which Al Qaeda planned and executed the 9/11 attacks. In response to those horrific attacks, in 2001, the United States deployed troops to Afghanistan and successfully drove out Al Qaeda and the Taliban regime, eventually paving the way for elections.

But from 2002 to 2009, in the words of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, “resources and senior-level attention were diverted from Afghanistan” to Iraq, interrupting US efforts to rebuild Afghanistan.1It was not until the start of President Obama’s tenure in 2009 that the United States shifted its focus back to Afghanistan, sending an additional surge of 30,000 troops to suppress the Taliban insurgency and stabilize the country.2Civilian deaths in Afghanistan nevertheless increased after this period.3

In 2014, at the end of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s tenure and after years of tense relations with his Administration, the United States sought a political solution to a disputed election and helped broker a national unity government between President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Ghani, a former Afghan finance minister with a doctorate from an American school and decades of experience as an academic and World Bank staffer, was elected—and continues to serve as president after securing re-election in February 2020.4Abdullah Abdullah, who previously served as Afghanistan’s foreign minister, became chief executive and is expected to lead the Afghan government’s negotiations with the Taliban.5

On January 1, 2015, NATO ground forces, including American troops, officially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan, replacing it with a train-and-advise mission. In November 2017, NATO allies and partners decided to set the number of troops in Afghanistan at 16,000 personnel. Prior to that decision, in June, President Trump had already reversed his campaign pledge to withdraw from Afghanistan and approved a plan by then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to send 3,000-5,000 troops to advise Afghan forces.6This brought the number of US forces to 14,000—just a fraction of President Obama’s surge of 30,000 troops in 2009. As of June 2020, per the recent agreement signed with the Taliban, the United States reduced its presence to 8,600 troops, with the timeline of pulling all troops from Afghanistan by May 2021 if the Taliban upholds its commitments.7According to the Department of Defense (DoD), over 2,400 US military personnel and civilian employees have been killed in support of US military operations in Afghanistan.8From 2002 to 2017, the US Congress has appropriated or allocated between $934 billion and $978 billion for various State Department and Pentagon programs to support the Afghan security forces.9

Despite increases in US forces over the years, the Taliban has ultimately gained back a lot of ground since the 2002 invasion. An increase of new weapons has allowed the Taliban to launch attacks on Afghan security forces in rural areas and remote military outposts.10Indeed, the Taliban is estimated to control almost 400 districts in Afghanistan,11and in many cases the group acts as a shadow government by collecting taxes, providing basic services, and running local bazaars.12

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The signed peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban is an important step, but the Trump Administration should now work to encourage intra-Afghan negotiations.

In February 2020, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, announced that the United States had reached an agreement with the Taliban to end America’s involvement in the 19-year war.13The framework’s four tenets are:

  1. The Taliban will prevent the use of Afghanistan by any group or individual seeking to attack the United States or its allies;
  2. The United States and all foreign forces will gradually withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months, if certain commitments are met by the Taliban;
  3. The Taliban will engage in direct negotiations with the Afghan government, if certain steps are taken; and
  4. A permanent and comprehensive ceasefire will be an agenda item in intra-Afghan negotiations.14

The deal between the United States and the Taliban does not guarantee lasting peace in Afghanistan, but it is an important step in facilitating US withdrawal from the country. However, there are still many questions about what the US government committed to and how it will monitor whether the Taliban is upholding its end of the agreement. The Trump Administration agreed to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and rescind sanctions on Taliban leaders by late August if intra-Afghan negotiations move forward,15in exchange for a number of commitments by the Taliban. The Administration has said the agreement for US withdrawal of troops is “conditions based,” but has not made these conditions public and has hindered transparency and accountability through its classification of secret annexes containing further information.16After so many years at war, the American people deserve more information about how decisions will be made about whether US troops stay or go.

Meanwhile, attacks by the Taliban and terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have continued in Afghanistan. While the public agreement calls for the Taliban and the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire as part of an intra-Afghan negotiations process,17Taliban fighters have carried out 44 attacks and killed or wounded 24 civilians every day since the end of February.18Additionally, attacks by Al Qaeda—which organized and executed the attacks on 9/11 from Afghan territory under the patronage of the Taliban—and ISIS have inflicted devastating casualties in Afghanistan.19

The future direction of these intra-Afghan negotiations is unclear, in large part, because the Trump Administration did not include the Afghan government in its negotiations with the Taliban. While a deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban is essential for peace and stability in the country and a prerequisite for complete US troop withdrawal by May 2021, the Taliban have notoriously resisted negotiations with the Afghan government and refused to enter into a power-sharing arrangement,20calling into question whether implementation of this agreement will be possible. The US-Taliban agreement mandated a prisoner exchange between the Afghan government and the Taliban, without the consent of the Afghan government.21The agreement called on the Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban soldiers, but the government slowly released only around 4,600. In early August, Afghan President Ghani called a consultative session with country elders to debate the release of the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners. After a weekend of consultation, the council agreed to release the final “hardcore” soldiers, paving the way for intra-Afghan talks.22The Taliban told US and Afghan officials they were ready for peace talks after upholding their commitment to release 1,000 prisoners. But the sustained period of violence between the two sides has further complicated the start of intra-Afghan negotiations. In July 2020 alone, Taliban soldiers killed at least 282 Afghan security forces and over 109 civilians.23

It is also unclear what will happen to the US agreement with the Taliban, and America’s future in Afghanistan, if the intra-Afghan negotiations fail. The US-Taliban agreement was particularly flawed in its exclusion of not only the government in Kabul but also women’s groups and other voices from civil society that will be most affected by this agreement and whose inclusion is critical for its long-term sustainability.24The US government must take steps to encourage and support intra-Afghan negotiations moving forward, while strongly calling for the inclusion of women and other civil society actors in those negotiations. To do so, the United States should use its diplomatic levers to push both sides to uphold its commitments under the US-Taliban agreement and promote more inclusive negotiations. And Congress should continue to demand transparency and accountability in these efforts, pushing for comprehensive, ongoing updates on what actions the Administration is taking to support inclusive, intra-Afghan negotiations.

Further, Congress must hold the Trump Administration accountable for developing a clear and comprehensive exit strategy for US troop withdrawal and provide the resources necessary to shift to non-combatant support through diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. Without continued US engagement on both governance and development, Afghanistan could return to the chaos of the 1990s and give rise to terrorist safe havens. To prevent terrorist organizations from once again gaining a stronghold in Afghanistan, the United States must continue to maintain other forms of support to ensure stability.

Ultimately, long-term peace between the Taliban and Afghan government, coupled with effective governance that promotes rule of law and reduces corruption, will keep Afghanistan from backsliding into a terrorist safe haven—the core US priority in the country.

As the United States works to end its military involvement in Afghanistan, Congress must also reassert its responsibility to make decisions on US troop deployments by sunsetting the 2001 AUMF.

Since 9/11, Congress has deferred to the president on where the United States deploys troops and how military operations are conducted. But after 19 years of deference and no end in sight for the conflict, this approach is not working. Congress must reassert itself by rescinding its war authority permission slip and blank check for military spending that the executive branch has taken for granted. To do this, Congress must:

1. Rescind its 2001 AUMF permission slip granting the executive branch unrestrained counterterrorism authority and consider a new, narrowly tailored authorization for US counterterrorism efforts.

Congress deferred its constitutional authority over matters of war 19 years ago by granting the executive branch a permission slip for unilateral military action. Congress should assert its authority as a co-equal branch of government, rescind the 2001 AUMF, and debate the merits of a new, narrowly tailored counterterrorism authority. The Constitution provides in Article I, Section 8 that “Congress shall have the power to declare war.”25Congress used this constitutional power when it authorized the 2001 AUMF. After the attacks on 9/11, Congress authorized the president to use force against the people who initiated those attacks. Since then, presidents have used that authority to combat Al Qaeda and its affiliates around the world.

Section 2(a) of the 2001 AUMF authorizes the use of force in response to the 9/11 attacks:26

Sec. 2. Authorization For Use of United States Armed Forces

(a) In GENERAL.—That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

The 2001 AUMF was intended to give the president authority to enter into an international armed conflict in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The US government believed that Taliban-controlled Afghanistan was harboring terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, which was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

The US government should have the “necessary and appropriate” authority to exercise its right to self-defense, but there should be limitations on the authority of the president to take military action without congressional approval. The text of the AUMF does not name or specify terrorist organizations nor provide geographic limits. The Obama Administration interpreted the scope of the 2001 AUMF to fit within the president’s Article II powers as commander in chief and chief executive to use military force against those who pose a threat to US national security.27This interpretation expanded the scope of the 2001 AUMF from authority to go after Al Qaeda and the Taliban to include “associated forces” of those organizations.

Currently, the United States is engaged in counterterrorism operations across the globe, far exceeding the original intent of the 2001 AUMF.28The 2001 AUMF has been used to deploy US troops in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, Somalia, and other countries.29Presidents have claimed that the 2001 AUMF also allows them to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) even though ISIS was not involved in the 9/11 attacks.30

In June 2019, in response to President Trump’s reckless actions against Iran and US support of Saudi Arabia in the Yemen civil war, the US House of Representatives voted to repeal the 2001 AUMF.31Although the bill died in the Senate, the vote was nonetheless significant; votes on House panels regarding similar language have continued.32The passage of the repeal is the first time since 2001 that Congress has voted in favor of ending the permission slip granted to Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump.33While President Bush and President Obama’s actions forced some Members of Congress to file bills ending the current AUMF, it was President Trump’s irresponsible actions combined with a Democratic majority in the House in 2018 that galvanized the vote.

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Repealing the 2001 AUMF would reassert Congress’s constitutional authority over matters of war, limit the potential for unilateral action and unintentional escalation by the president, and encourage the series of checks and balances on presidential military authority intended by the Founding Fathers. Any new AUMF must be narrowly tailored and give Congress the clear authority over where the executive branch is conducting military operations, articulate the targets for these efforts, and include an expiration date to prevent authorities passed 19 years ago from being continuously used without any input from Congress.

2. Reduce military spending to reflect the end of the mission in Afghanistan, including by ending the blank check for military spending through the use of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding.

As Congress rescinds its war authority permission slip, it should also revoke its blank check for military spending by eliminating Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. OCO provides the Pentagon with funding not subject to sequestration mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), a law that capped federal defense and non-defense spending and was designed to reduce defense spending by $1 trillion over 10 years.34Congress has the constitutional “power of the purse” to make decisions on funding for the federal government.35OCO funding has been used since the 9/11 attacks to provide the Pentagon with “emergency” war funding for US operations in Afghanistan, as well as in other places such as Syria and Iraq.36

There are two major categories of defense funding that are typically considered by Congress during the federal budget process. The first is the “base budget,” which covers funding for activities that DoD would conduct if US forces were not engaged in overseas operations. The costs for these activities can be forecasted annually; therefore, DoD can incorporate these costs into their annual budget request. The DoD base budget falls under the spending limits set by the BCA.37

The second major category is known as OCO funding, which is excluded from the spending limitations in the BCA. OCO funding was established as an “emergency” fund for war-related costs because war-related costs cannot be forecast. It largely ballooned after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to cover spending for overseas combat operations such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan.38The majority of OCO funding goes to DoD, with only a small portion going to the Department of State.39It has often operated as a type of “slush fund.” With the base budget under spending limitations, the Pentagon moves traditional base budget activities to OCO as a loophole to sequestration. For FY2021, the Pentagon is requesting roughly $16 billion of OCO funding for base budget activities and another $32.5 billion in “enduring costs” to support in-theater costs even after combat operations end.40Parking base budget activities in OCO funding hides the true cost as it is typically not included in overall federal spending and deficit projections.41

OCO funding has ballooned over the years. Between 1970 and 2000, non-base budget funding only accounted for about 2% of DoD’s total spending. In 2007 and 2008, OCO funding peaked at 28% ($205 billion in 2007 and $222 billion in 2008).42Since 2001, close to $2 trillion has been spent in OCO funding alone.43OCO funding has turned into a secondary defense budget. 

With President Trump’s stated desire to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and Syria, the blank check for OCO funding must end. Congress must work to fold all Pentagon spending back into the DoD base budget so it can adhere to BCA limitations.

3. Align DoD’s budget should with its military commitments.

The size of the defense budget should follow its mission obligations. President Trump recently announced the withdrawal of US troops from Germany44and his intention to speed up the timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan.45Members of Congress should use their appropriations and authorizing authorities to reject the Trump Administration’s call to set defense spending at $740 billion.46The defense budget should align with the department’s mission; if US troops withdraw from global conflicts, military funding should also be reduced. Congress should invest those resources into other tools critical for global stability, such as diplomatic and development engagement. Given the COVID-19 crisis, Congress should evaluate whether America’s diplomats, development entities, and other global health initiatives, including the United Nations, have the needed funding to continue their vital work around the globe.

The defense budget should not operate like a one-way ratchet, which only goes up. In fact, there is a recent precedent to wind down the defense budget after the military scales back its operations. In 2013, President Obama reduced funding at the Pentagon as the United States scaled down operations primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan.47Congress should follow the same precedent now and ensure the DoD budget is aligned with its global combat missions.

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Congressional Democrats should inquire why DoD is scaling up their budget while withdrawing from a number of conflicts and countries globally. In particular, during these processes, Congress must question:

  • What are the clear conditions that the Taliban must meet for US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and how will a potentially decreased US troop presence impact national security and the defense budget?
  • What are the merits of continuing to increase defense funding if US troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, and can the money be better spent on combatting climate change, cyberattacks, pandemics, and other critical security threats?

Recent reports of Russians placing bounties on American troops in Afghanistan are disturbing. Trump’s refusal to respond to this act of aggression is even more so.

Russia’s actions in Afghanistan and the wider region in the last few years have revolved around one goal: speeding up the exit of American forces and working to fill vacuums left by the United States. In June 2020, reports surfaced that a military intelligence unit associated with the Russian government secretly offered the Afghan Taliban money to kill American and coalition soldiers while the United States was negotiating a peace agreement with the militant group.48At least one incident of American service members killed in action is being traced to the bounty scheme.49Worst of all, President Trump knew about the scheme and did nothing to deter the Russians while pursuing negotiations with the Taliban50and continuing to promote Russia’s return to the Group of Seven (G7) in direct opposition to America’s European allies.51In fact, US military and intelligence officials warned the Trump Administration as far back as 2018 that the Russians were arming the Taliban by smuggling small arms and other military equipment over the porous Tajikistan-Afghanistan border.52

Russia’s goal is to speed up the exit of US and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Trump’s insistence on not punishing Russia and advocating for the Russian government’s positions to the international community is wholly unsurprising for a man that has spent the last five years cozying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin. As highlighted in the Russia chapter of this book, Congress must firmly push back against President Trump’s support for Russia and take action against Russian President Vladimir Putin, including by:

  1. Sanctioning and punishing Putin and his cronies; and
  2. Passing legislation to authorize proportionate cyber and other asymmetric non-escalatory responses.

President Trump’s top concern should always be the protection of US troops and diplomats serving overseas, not cozying up to dictators. But his refusal to stand up to Putin has needlessly put US service members' lives at risk. Congress should continue to demand answers from the Administration through its oversight authorities, including by issuing any necessary subpoenas, about what the president knew and when he knew it.

Conclusion

The United States entered Afghanistan 19 years ago after the 9/11 attacks to prevent the return of terrorist safe havens that can be used to launch attacks on the American homeland. Now that an agreement has been reached between the United States and the Taliban to end American military operations and withdraw US troops from the country, Congress must conduct proper oversight of such a withdrawal and push the Administration to provide continued support to intra-Afghan negotiations and the Afghan government, as well as develop a clear exit strategy that maintains US support for efforts aimed at promoting such critical priorities as women’s rights and governance in the country.

As the United States winds down military operations in Afghanistan, Congress must also repeal the 2001 AUMF, reduce military spending to reflect the end of the mission, and align defense spending to military commitments. Congress must also take action to hold the Russian government accountable for attacks on US military personnel in Afghanistan.

Topics
  • Foreign Relations143

Endnotes

  1. Gates, Robert M. “The Quiet Fury of Robert Gates.” The Wall Street Journal, 7 Jan. 2014, www.wsj.com/articles/no-headline-available-1389128316. Accessed 12 July 2018.

  2. Transcript of Obama speech on Afghanistan.” CNN, 2 Dec. 2009, www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/12/01/obama.afghanistan.speech.transcript/index.html Accessed July 12, 2018.; Holland, Steve. “Obama Shifts Strategy from Bush Policy.” Reuters, 27 Mar. 2009, www.reuters.com/article/us-afghan-analysis-sb/obama-shifts-strategy-from-bush-policy-idUSTRE52Q66820090327. Accessed 12 July 2018.

  3. “Civilian Casualties in Afghan Conflict Rise by 14 Percent in 2013.” Press Release, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, 8 Feb. 2014, unama.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/feb_8_2014_poc-report_2013-pr-eng-final.pdf. Accessed 11 June 2018.

  4. Mashal, Mujib, Najim Rahim, and Fatima Faizi. “Ghani Named Afghan Election Winner. His Opponent Claims Victory, Too.” The New York Times, 18 Feb. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/02/18/world/asia/afghanistan-election-ashraf-ghani.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  5. Mashal, Mujib. “Afghan Rivals Sign Power-Sharing Deal as Political Crisis Subsides.” The New York Times, 17 May 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/05/17/world/asia/afghanistan-ghani-abdullah.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  6. Gibbons-Neff, Thomas, and Mujib Mashal. “U.S. to Withdraw About 7,000 Troops From Afghanistan, Officials Say.” The New York Times, 21 Dec. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/12/20/us/politics/afghanistan-troop-withdrawal.html. Accessed 15 Feb. 2019.

  7. Lamothe, Dan and Susannah George. “Pentagon plans for expected Trump order to pull thousands more troops from Afghanistan.” The Washington Post, 27 May 2020. www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/pentagon-plans-for-expected-trump-order-to-pull-thousands-more-troops-from-afghanistan/2020/05/27/3068c5c2-a025-11ea-9d96-c3f7c755fd6e_story.html. Accessed 23 June 2020.

  8. United States, Department of Defense. “Casualty Status” 10 Aug. 2020, www.defense.gov/casualty.pdf. Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

  9. Whitlock, Craig. “At War With The Truth.” The Washington Post, 9 Dec. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-confidential-documents/. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  10. United Nations Security Council. Tenth report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team submitted pursuant to resolution 2255 (2015) concerning the Taliban and other associated individuals and entities constituting a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan. 13 June 2019, www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_2019_481.pdf. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  11. Maizland, Lindsay and Zachary Laub. “The Taliban in Afghanistan.” Council on Foreign Relations, 11 Mar. 2020, www.cfr.org/backgrounder/taliban-afghanistan. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  12. Mashal, Mujib. “How the Taliban Outlasted a Superpower: Tenacity and Carnage.” The New York Times, 26 May 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/world/asia/taliban-afghanistan-war.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  13. Vanden Brook, Tom and Deirdre Shesgreen. “Historic peace deal in Afghanistan reached with Taliban allowing withdrawal of US troops.” USA Today, 29 Feb. 2020. www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/02/29/u-s-taliban-sign-deal-peace-talks-begin-u-s-troops-withdraw/4738736002/. Accessed 22 June 2020.

  14. United States, Department of State. “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and the United States of America.” 29 Feb. 2020. www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Agreement-For-Bringing-Peace-to-Afghanistan-02.29.20.pdf. Accessed 22 June 2020.

  15. United States, Department of State. “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and the United States of America.” 29 Feb. 2020. www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Agreement-For-Bringing-Peace-to-Afghanistan-02.29.20.pdf. Accessed 22 June 2020.

  16. Thomas, Clayton. Afghanistan: Background and U.S. Policy: In Brief. Congressional Research Service, 25 June 2020, fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R45122.pdf, p. 3. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  17. United States, Department of State. “Briefing With Special Repesentative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad.” 15 May 2020, www.state.gov/briefing-with-special-representative-for-afghanistan-reconciliation-zalmay-khalilzad/. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  18. Finnegan, Conor. “US tries to push forward Taliban deal amid bounty reports, Trump’s moves to withdraw from Afghanistan.” ABCNews, 30 June 2020, abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-push-forward-taliban-deal-amid-bounty-reports/story?id=71541534. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  19. See for example: Ghazi, Zabihullah and Mujib Mashal. "29 Dead After ISIS Attack on Afghan Prison.” The New York Times, 3 Aug. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/world/asia/afghanistan-prison-isis-taliban.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  20. Mashal, Mujib and Taimoor Shah. “Taliban Offer to Reduce Violence in Afghanistan Ahead of Deal With U.S.” The New York Times, www.nytimes.com/2020/01/16/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-agreement.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  21. George, Susannah. “Afghanistan to release last 400 Taliban prisoners, paving the way for peace talks.” The Washington Post, 10 Aug. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/afghanistan-to-release-last-400-taliban-prisoners-paving-the-way-for-peace-talks/2020/08/09/74bc3a66-d95e-11ea-aff6-220dd3a14741_story.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  22. George, Susannah. “Afghanistan to release last 400 Taliban prisoners, paving the way for peace talks.” The Washington Post, 10 Aug. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/afghanistan-to-release-last-400-taliban-prisoners-paving-the-way-for-peace-talks/2020/08/09/74bc3a66-d95e-11ea-aff6-220dd3a14741_story.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  23. Abed, Fahim. “Afghan War Casualty Report: July 2020.” The New York Times Magazine, 9 July 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/magazine/afghan-war-casualty-report-july-2020.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  24. Hunt, Swanee, and Wazhma Frogh. “Denying Women a Seat at Taliban Talks Is a Huge Mistake.” CNN, 11 Feb. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/02/11/opinions/afghanistan-taliban-women-negotiating-table-hunt-frogh/index.html. Accessed 25 Feb. 2019.

  25. Eoyang, Mieke. “AUMF Statement for the Record HFAC.” Third Way, 20 July 2017, www.thirdway.org/letter/aumf-statement-for-the-record-hfac. Accessed 15 Feb. 2019.

  26. Weed, Matthew. “Presidential References to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Publicly Available Executive Actions and Reports to Congress.” Congressional Research Service, 11 May 2016. fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/pres-aumf.pdf. Accessed 17 Feb. 2019.

  27. Weed, Matthew. “Presidential References to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Publicly Available Executive Actions and Reports to Congress.” Congressional Research Service, 11 May 2016. fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/pres-aumf.pdf. Accessed 17 Feb. 2019.

  28. Eoyang, Mieke. “AUMF Statement for the Record HFAC.” Third Way, 20 July 2017, www.thirdway.org/letter/aumf-statement-for-the-record-hfac. Accessed 15 Feb. 2019.

  29. Woody, Christopher. “Congress may repeal the post-9/11 act the US military used to justify the fight against ISIS.” Business Insider, 29 June 2017, www.businessinsider.com/a-bill-to-repeal-the-aumf-just-passed-2017-6. Accessed 15 Feb 2019.

  30. Taub, Amanda. “Experts: Obama’s legal justification for the war on ISIS is ‘a stretch’.” Vox, 12 Sept. 2014,  www.vox.com/iraq-crisis/2014/9/12/6134159/is-obamas-new-isis-strategy-legal. Accessed 15 February 2019.

  31. “House Votes to Repeal Authorization for Use of Military Force.” Press Release, Business Wire, 19 June 2019, apnews.com/a64ecda4ed7c41fa9d582a75f6ba0b9e. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  32. Gould, Joe. “House panel votes to end 2001, 2002 war authorizations.” DefenseNews, 14 July 2020, www.defensenews.com/congress/2020/07/14/house-panel-votes-to-end-2001-2002-war-authorizations/. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  33. Golshan, Tara. “House Democrats vote to repeal 9/11-era law used to authorize perpetual war.” Vox, 19 July 2019, www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/6/19/18691936/house-democrats-vote-repeal-9-11-aumf-war-iran. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.

  34. Harrison, Todd. “What Has the Budget Control Act of 2011 Meant for Defense?” Nuclear Stability in a Post-Arms Control World, Center for Strategic & International Studies, 21 Dec. 2018, www.csis.org/analysis/what-has-budget-control-act-2011-meant-defense. Accessed 6 Jan. 2019.

  35. Several congressional committees can play a role in holding the Trump Administration accountable for its decisions on the defense budget after it is released. These include the House and Senate Budget Committees, which have the ability to draft budget resolutions to set targets for government spending; the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, which have the ability as “authorizers” to draft the annual National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs) and set DoD policies, programs, and projects; and the House and Senate Appropriation Committees and their Defense Subcommittees, which have the ability as “appropriators” to draft the DoD spending bill and determine detailed levels of funding for the department.

  36. Shinkman, Paul. “Inside the Pentagon's 'Slush Fund'.” U.S. News & World Report, 12 Feb. 2016, www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-02-12/inside-the-pentagons-slush-fund-the-secret-budget-that-just-wont-go-away. Accessed 6 Jan. 2019.

  37. Williams, Lynn M, and Pat Towell. FY2018 Defense Budget Request: The Basics. Congressional Research Service, 7 June 2017, fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R44866.pdf. Accessed 6 Jan. 2019.

  38. Woodward, Matthew. Funding for Overseas Contingency Operations and Its Impact on Defense Spending. Congressional Budget Office, Oct. 2018, pp. 1-2, www.cbo.gov/system/files?file=2018-10/54219-oco_spending.pdf. Accessed 6 Jan. 2019.

  39. Lamothe, Dan, et al. “Trump Orders Major Military Withdrawal from Afghanistan as Mattis Departs.” The Washington Post, 21 Dec. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-agitating-for-major-military-withdrawal-from-afghanistan-advisers-say/2018/12/20/0c35f874-04a3-11e9-b5df-5d3874f1ac36_story.html. Accessed 15 Feb. 2019

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