When U.S. President Joe Biden told an exhausted nation on Aug. 31 that the last C-17 cargo plane had left Taliban-controlled Kabul, ending two decades of American military misadventure in Afghanistan, he defended the frantic, bloodstained exit with a simple statement: "I was not going to extend this forever war.”

And yet the war grinds on.

As Biden drew the curtain on Afghanistan, the CIA was quietly expanding a secret base deep in the Sahara, from which it runs drone flights to monitor al-Qaida and Islamic State group militants in Libya, as well as extremists in Niger, Chad and Mali. The military’s Africa Command resumed drone strikes against the Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked group in Somalia. The Pentagon is weighing whether to send dozens of Special Forces trainers back to Somalia to help local troops fight militants.