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Operation Freedom's Sentinel
Female Tactical Platoon Members.jpg
Female Tactical Platoon members fire during a qualification at range near Kabul, Afghanistan
Active Effective date January 1, 2015 - present

Operation Freedom's Sentinel (OFS) is the official name used by the U.S. Government for the follow on mission to Operation Enduring Freedom in continuation of the Global War on Terrorism. Operation Freedom's Sentinel is to be part of the NATO lead Resolute Support Mission, which began on January 1, 2015. OFS primary focus as stated by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel "will include two core components: working with allies and partners on Resolute Support, and continuing "counterterrorism operations against the remnants of Al-Qaeda to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used to stage attacks against our homeland."[1]

Objectives[edit | edit source]

After 13 years of combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the U.S. military and NATO allies are shifting focus from major military operations to a smaller role of NATO led training and assistance.[2] While the bulk of the new mission is to be 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."[2] In a statement by Gen. John F. Campbell, commander, Resolute Support Mission, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan/ISAF on October 1, 2015, he defined the U.S. military's objectives as such, "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."[3]

When OFS started in 2015, the U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan were at 9,800 troops. General Campbell sent a request to the Pentagon for an additional 1,000 troops while the NATO troop levels were built up to a force of about 13,500. His request was granted.[4] As of mid-2018, U.S. troop levels are at 14,000 troops in combined support of NATO RS missions and OFS.

Quotes from Congressional reports[edit | edit source]

The Lead Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations (Lead IG) is responsible for submitting a quarterly report on Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) to Congress. The quarterly report describes the activities of the U.S. Government 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,[5]

The following are some 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 large attacks to seize cities or districts.1 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.[5]

Key Challenges

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.[5]

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

References[edit | edit source]


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