Skip to Content

Rockets Greet Defense Chief Mattis As He Visits Afghanistan

Defense secretary James Mattis and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg landed in Kabul on Wednesday to talk with the Afghan government about training security forces there. However, although the visit was not pre-announced, rockets rained down on and around the airport just before their arrival.

Both the Taliban (per Al Jazeera) and Islamic State (per Reuters) claimed responsibility for the attack on Hamid Karzai International Airport, in which there were no reported casualties.

The two terrorist groups are at war with one another, although some reports have suggested some degree of coordination between them in attacking others in Afghanistan.

Wednesday’s attack marked a rocky start for Mattis’s first visit to Afghanistan since president Donald Trump decided the U.S. should stop trying to rebuild the country and instead focus on fighting terrorism there. The war in Afghanistan has been going since 2001, making it the U.S.’s longest war ever.

The visit is taking place under the auspices of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, in which the alliance is training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces in their fight against terror groups. The mission was supposed to go along with the withdrawal of NATO troops from the country, although thousands still remain there.

The U.S. alone still has 11,000 troops in Afghanistan, and Trump now wants another 3,000 added to that number. Other NATO allies have 5,000 troops in the country.