U.S. Relations With Afghanistan

Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
Fact Sheet
July 26, 2018


More information about Afghanistan is available on the Afghanistan Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.

U.S.-AFGHANISTAN RELATIONS

Afghanistan remains an important partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism, working with us to eliminate al-Qaeda, ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K) and their affiliates in Afghanistan. In order to strengthen Afghanistan’s capabilities as a partner, and to improve the lives of the Afghan people, we continue to invest U.S. resources to help Afghanistan improve its security, governance, institutions and economy. Our strong bilateral partnership is guided by the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States of America (SPA) signed in May 2012, which outlines respective economic and political commitments, as well as by the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) signed in September 2014, which outlines mutual security understandings. In July 2012, following the entry into force of the SPA, President Obama designated Afghanistan a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA). President Trump’s conditions-based South Asia Strategy, announced in August 2017, seeks to set conditions for a political process between the Taliban and the Afghan government that ultimately leads to a peace agreement and an end the conflict in Afghanistan. President Trump was clear that military power alone will not end the war but can set the conditions for a political process that leads to lasting peace.

U.S. Security Support for Afghanistan

The United States military has been engaged in Afghanistan since shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. In 2003, NATO assumed leadership of the United Nations-mandated International Security Assistance Force Mission (ISAF). At its height, ISAF included more than 130,000 troops from 51 NATO and partner nations. ISAF forces fought alongside the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) as the international community worked to improve ANDSF capabilities. U.S. force levels peaked at roughly 100,000 in 2011, and began to decrease through 2014, as the ANDSF gained strength. There have been more than 2,400 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan since 2001, and over 20,000 U.S. service members have been wounded in action. U.S. casualties in Afghanistan peaked at 499 in 2010 and dropped sharply after January 2015, when Afghan forces assumed full responsibility for combat operations against the Taliban. There have been four U.S. combat fatalities in Afghanistan in the year since President Trump announced the South Asia Strategy.

ISAF officially ended on December 31, 2014, with the ANDSF taking over full responsibility for security in Afghanistan on January 1, 2015, when the United States and NATO formally ended their combat role in Afghanistan and transitioned to a new mission. On January 1, 2015, NATO launched the Resolute Support Mission (RSM), a non-combat mission focused on providing train, advise, and assist support to the ANDSF. In addition to the United States, there are 38 NATO Ally and partner nations contributing troops to RSM and helping Afghan forces become more effective, professional, and sustainable. The BSA and a NATO Status of Forces agreement signed in September 2014 provide the legal basis for U.S. and NATO forces to remain in Afghanistan.

The United States has approximately 16,000 troops in Afghanistan engaged in two missions: 1) a bilateral counterterrorism mission in cooperation with Afghan forces; and 2) participation in RSM. U.S. troops in Afghanistan serve alongside almost 8,000 troops from NATO allies and partners. U.S. forces continue to disrupt and degrade ISIS-K and al-Qaeda activities in Afghanistan, through partnered operations with Afghan forces, as well as unilateral operations. Combatting ISIS-K and the remnants of al-Qaeda will remain a priority for the United States, as we work to ensure that Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for terrorism.

U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan

The United States is part of a coalition of more than 100 countries and organizations that provide both security and civilian assistance to Afghanistan. The United States and more than 30 other nations provide financial support to the ANDSF. The international community made almost $5 billion available for the ANDSF in 2016, with the United States providing the greatest share. At the NATO Warsaw Summit in July 2016, nations pledged to extend their financial support for the ANDSF through 2020. At the Brussels NATO Summit in July 2018, NATO Allies and Operational Partners committed to extend financial sustainment of the Afghan forces through 2024.

Similarly, at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan in October 2016, the United States and other international donors committed to provide Afghanistan $15.2 billion in civilian assistance through 2020. In its turn, Afghanistan committed to strengthen governance, rule of law, fiscal sustainability, and human rights. These commitments are codified in the “Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework” (SMAF). The United Nations will convene another international donor conference in Geneva in November 2018 to review Afghanistan’s progress on its reform commitments.

The United States uses bilateral incentive programs and the SMAF to hold the Afghan Government accountable to mutually agreed reform commitments. We focus our development assistance on promoting economic growth and an export-oriented trade strategy, building the capacity of civilian institutions, improving the performance of the justice system, and helping the government maintain and improve upon the gains made over the last decade in health, education, and women’s rights. The United States also provides support for Afghan civil society, promotes increased respect for human rights, helps to fight the illegal trade in narcotics, and continues to provide significant humanitarian support. Since 2001, the United States has allocated approximately $29 billion in civilian assistance for Afghanistan.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Afghanistan signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United States in 2004. The TIFA is the primary forum for bilateral trade and investment discussions between the two countries. Exports from the United States to Afghanistan increased 525% from $150 million in 2004 to $937 million in 2017. Efforts are underway to improve the business climate, including strengthening Afghanistan’s commercial regulatory and legal framework to attract foreign trade and investment, as well as to stimulate additional trade with the United States through trade capacity development. Implementation of new, WTO-compliant legislation and policies will improve Afghanistan’s business environment and trade regime, and provide an international legal framework that will help further Afghanistan’s regional integration.

Political Relations

Following controversial 2014 presidential elections in Afghanistan, the United States helped to mediate a political agreement that called for the United Nations to audit the vote, with the resulting winner becoming President and the runner-up the Chief Executive, a new position created in the agreement. The United States remains committed to the unity government of Afghanistan that emerged from this process, marking the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history. The unity government has been a reliable and capable partner for the United States, one which welcomes our security presence and utilizes our development support to enact critical reforms aimed at providing Afghans with effective and inclusive governance, representative of all segments of society. After a three-year delay, the Afghan government announced parliamentary elections for October 20, 2018. Presidential elections will be in April, 2019. The United States fully supports efforts to reform Afghanistan’s electoral institutions in order to hold timely, credible, and transparent elections.

Afghanistan's Membership in International Organizations

Afghanistan and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Afghanistan also is a Partner for Cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and joined the World Trade Organization in 2016.

Bilateral Representation

Ambassador John Bass was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan in September 2017; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Afghanistan maintains an embassy in the United States at 2341 Wyoming Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: 202-483-6410). Dr. Hamdullah Mohib has served as Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States since September 2015.

More information about Afghanistan is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Afghanistan Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Afghanistan Page
U.S. Embassy
USAID Afghanistan Page | USAID Afghanistan Mission Page
History of U.S. Relations With Afghanistan
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel Information