Now, eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the Obama administration is urgently re-thinking its role in the country.
Americans and Afghans originally showed strong support for U.S. involvement, but that support is quickly fading.
Eight years ago the bombs began to fall and weeks later, the U.S. and local fighters liberated Kabul.
"I'm very happy because our country is free, free from the Taliban," a resident said when the war on terror began.
That freedom brought music back to the country. Men shaved their Taliban-mandated beards and women and girls lifted their burquas and headed for the classroom.
Many credit the U.S. presence as key to scattering and weakening al Qaeda.
But today, security is poor. ABC News filmed Taliban fighters less than 50 miles from the capital and many Afghans are angry at the U.S. military. They're urging better security and more development.
"Had the U.S. put more emphasis on the people of the country and on what the people wanted and needed, we would have had an army of Afghans everywhere who would have pursued this war with the United States," said Afghan Parliament member Daoud Sultanzoy.
Now, the U.S. has serious doubts about the Afghan government.
A questionable presidential election there this summer makes partnership difficult, and within the U.S., the administration appears divided over its tactics.
Just how many troops are needed and how they should approach the war are hot topics for debate.
President Obama will finish high-level strategy meetings next week, but aides say his decision is still weeks away.