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.
The United States established diplomatic ties with Afghanistan in 1935. Afghanistan remains an important partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism, working with us to eliminate al-Qa’ida, 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 Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States 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, the United States designated Afghanistan a Major Non-NATO Ally. The South Asia Strategy announced in August 2017 outlined conditions for a political process between the Taliban and the Afghan government that could lead to a peace settlement to end the conflict in Afghanistan. The Strategy for Central Asia, announced in February 2020, envisioned expanding and maintaining support for stability in Afghanistan, as well as strengthening connectivity between Central Asia and Afghanistan.
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 to an average of about 17 per year after January 2015, when Afghan forces assumed full responsibility for combat operations against the Taliban.
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 training, advice, and assistance 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.
As of January 15, 2021, the United States has approximately 2,500 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-Qa’ida activities in Afghanistan, through partnered operations with Afghan forces, as well as unilateral operations.
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 2019, with the United States providing the greatest share. NATO allies and operational partners pledged $379.9 million for 2020 in conjunction with the October 19, 2020, Afghan National Army Trust Fund plenary in Brussels.
Similarly, at the Afghanistan 2020 Conference, co-hosted by Finland, the United Nations, and Afghanistan, and hosted virtually through the United Nations platform from Geneva in November 2020, the United States pledged $300 million, with an additional $300 million available depending on meaningful progress in the peace process and on governance issues. Conference organizers announced $3.3 billion in assistance to Afghanistan. Afghanistan committed to taking tangible action to fight corruption, strengthen governance, and maintain and build upon the gains over the past 20 years.
The United States’ development assistance focuses on promoting peace, self-reliance, and stability including through programs to increase economic growth via an export-oriented trade strategy; enhancing 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.
The United States supports efforts to improve Afghanistan’s 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 and regional partners through trade capacity development. Afghanistan signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United States in 2004, which is the primary forum for bilateral trade and investment discussions between the two countries.
The United States remains committed to Afghanistan’s political stability, democratic governance, and productive bilateral and multilateral relations. Following the controversial 2014 presidential election in Afghanistan, the United States called for and financially supported the United Nations audit of the vote, and helped mediate a political agreement that resulted in the creation of the National Unity Government. After a three-year delay, the Afghan government held parliamentary elections in October 2018. Presidential elections were held in September 2019 and the incumbent, President Ashraf Ghani, was announced the winner in February 2020, following several months of election audits. The United States fully supports efforts to reform Afghanistan’s electoral institutions, strengthen its justice sector, and promote public accountability and transparency.
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.
Ambassador Ross Wilson became Chargé d’Affaires to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in January 2020; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
Afghanistan maintains an in the United States at 2341 Wyoming Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: 202-483-6410). Ambassador Roya Rahmani has served as Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States since December 2018.
More information about Afghanistan is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: