Later this year, a U.S. service member is likely to be deployed to Afghanistan who was not yet born on September 11, 2001, when al-Qa`ida terrorists launched the most devastating terrorist attack in history and killed almost 3,000 people, mostly Americans. The years in between have seen wars in Iraq and Syria justified in the name of counterterrorism as well as more limited U.S. interventions against jihadi groups in Libya, Somalia, and other countries. Hundreds of thousands have died in these conflicts—some from terrorism, but most from combat and the associated ravages of war. Yet even as this body count soared, neither al-Qa`ida nor other jihadi groups have proven able to conduct a repeat of 9/11 or even anything close to it.
The problem right now is the fatigue of US forces and the remaining influence of jihadi which continues to pull countries into civil war. If we withdraw our counterterrorism troops, the Islamic state will act immediately and further destabilize the Middle East. Now is the time for a new strategy and the help of other countries.