(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The Afghan war hit another grim milestone Saturday: it has now lasted longer than the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
It took the Soviets nine years and 50 days to abandon Afghanistan after their invasion. On Dec. 27, 1979, 80,000 soldiers arrived; on Feb. 15, 1989, the last one walked home over a bridge. The Soviets believed they were leaving behind a functional, loyal government and sufficiently strong army to hold the country together. But the 250,000 mujahideen that the Americans, Pakistanis, and Saudis helped fund and train proved too hard to handle.
The U.S. and its allies have committed to four more years of robust military presence in the country. The U.S. military hopes that by committing to Afghanistan through 2014 (and beyond, in a lesser capacity), Afghans will trust that they won't be abandoned -- and therefore throw their lot in with the U.S., instead of sitting on the fence and waiting to choose the winning side.
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio