The War in Afghanistan began on 7 October 2001, when the armed forces of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Canada, and the Afghan United Front (Northern Alliance) launched Operation Enduring Freedom. The U.S. organized the operation in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 in the United States. The objective of the invasion was to dismantle the Al Qaeda organization and end its use of Afghanistan as a base. The U.S. also intended to remove the fundamentalist Taliban regime from power in Afghanistan. The Taliban protected Al Qaeda and had refused to arrest Osama bin Laden for his ordering of the September 11 terrorist attacks. However, the Taliban did offer to hand Osama Bin Laden over to a third country if they were given evidence of his involvement in the 9/11 attacks and the US bombing campaign was stopped.
The U.S. and its allies were initially successful in removing the Taliban from power in Kabul and the other major towns and cities of Afghanistan; however, many members of the Al Qaeda and Taliban organizations safely escaped the country. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was established by the U.N. Security Council at the end of December 2001, and NATO assumed control of ISAF in 2003. ISAF included troops from 42 countries, with NATO members providing the core of the force. An attempt was made to establish a new Afghan government with the help of the U.S. and its allies; and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was established under the interim government of Hamid Karzai, who was elected President in 2004.
An armed helicopter is a helicopter equipped with weapons. Most commonly, it is used for attacking targets on the ground. Such a helicopter could be either purposely designed for a ground-attack mission—in which case it would be more specifically categorized as an attack helicopter—or may have been previously designed for other uses, such as utility, cargo, reconnaissance, etc., with the weapons mounts being modifications, rather than part of the design of the helicopter. The purpose of the modification to an armed helicopter configuration can be field expediency during combat, the lack of military funding to develop or purchase attack helicopters, or the need to maintain the helicopter for missions that do not require the weapons.
Specialized armed helicopters fly from ships at sea, and are equipped for antisubmarine warfare or strikes with anti-shipping missiles.