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Sunday marked 17 years of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan — with no end in sight. Just last week, a 23-year-old American serviceman was killed by an improvised explosive device in Helmand Province.

Expand chart
Note: Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn lasted March 2003 to December 2011. Operations against the Islamic State in Iraq officially resumed in 2014 under Operation Inherent Resolve; Data: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress and the National Archives; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

The big picture: No one believed the war would last this long when Operation Enduring Freedom began on October 7, 2001. Now, 17 years later, almost half of Americans believe the U.S. has "mostly failed."

The timeline

Afghanistan:

  • Operation Enduring Freedom: October 7, 2001, — December 28, 2014.
  • Operation Freedom's Sentinel: January 1, 2015 — current.

Iraq:

  • Operation Iraqi Freedom: March 19, 2003 — August 31, 2010.
  • Operation New Dawn: September 1, 2010 — December 15, 2011.
  • Operation Inherent Resolve: October 15, 2014 — current.
What they've said
  • President Obama said in 2014 that he planned to pull the last of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.
  • President Trump admitted in 2017 that while his "original instinct was to pull out...[a] hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists — including ISIS and al Qaeda — would instantly fill."

The bottom line: No one seems to want to stay in Afghanistan, but no one seems to know how to leave, either.

Editor's note: The graph was corrected to show the specific dates of the beginning and end of each conflict (the initial graph relied on Congressional Research Service material defining broader periods of war that determined eligibility of veterans' benefits).

Go deeper

EA Sports is in expansion mode

EA Sports general manager Daryl Holt (left). Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photos: EA Sports

The biggest player in sports video games has plans to get even bigger — on mobile, in football, maybe even with basketball again — EA Sports general manager Daryl Holt said in an exclusive interview with Axios.

Why it matters: Sports gaming doesn’t get much press, but it’s a surging market with increased competition and lots of players up for grabs.

Heat wave grips U.S. this week from coast to coast

Computer model projection from the GFS model showing an unusually hot airmass across the western and Central U.S. on Thursday, June 29, 2021. (Weatherbell.com)

A widespread heat wave has begun across the contiguous U.S., with at least 30 million people likely to see temperatures reach or exceed 100°F by the end of the week.

Why it matters: The hot weather, which comes courtesy of another heat dome building across the Southwest, Rockies and then sliding into the western Plains, will only aggravate drought conditions and worsen many of the western wildfires.

VA first federal agency to require COVID vaccines for employees

A medical doctor gives the thumbs-up sign to a COVID-19 patient who is no longer using a respirator at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New York City. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday it would require its frontline health care workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus within the next two months, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The VA is the first federal agency to mandate that employees receive the vaccine. The decision comes as cases of the Delta variant in the U.S. have increased dramatically.