US evacuates key Afghan base; Pullout target now ‘end of August’

US evacuates key Afghan base; Pullout target now ‘end of August’

WASHINGTON: Nearly 20 years after invading Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban and hunt al-Qaeda, the US military has evacuated its largest airspace in the country, pushing the final withdrawal, the Pentagon says. Will be completed by the end of August.
President Joe Biden had instructed the Pentagon to complete the troop withdrawal by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States, but the Pentagon now says it may end the drawdown sometime soon.
In fact, the drawdown has already been largely completed and officials had said that it could be wrapped up later this week.
But a number of related issues need to be worked out in the coming weeks, including talks with Turkey on a new US military command structure in Kabul and arrangements to maintain security at Kabul airport, and therefore will not be an official end to the pullout. . announced soon.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said, “A safe, orderly decline enables us to maintain an ongoing diplomatic presence, support the Afghan people and government, and prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists.” ”
Meanwhile, the administration is narrowing options to ensure the safety of thousands of Afghans whose special visa applications to the United States have not yet been approved.
The administration has already said it is ready to send them to third countries until visas are approved, but has not yet determined where. Officials said on Friday that one possibility was to relocate them to neighboring countries in Central Asia where they could be protected from possible retaliation by the Taliban or other groups.
The White House and the State Department have declined to comment on the numbers that need to be moved or where they might go, but the foreign ministers of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were in Washington this week and the topic of Afghan security was in meetings with the secretary. was raised in State’s Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Kirby said Austin on Friday approved a new command structure to shift the US military mission in Afghanistan from war to two new objectives – safeguarding the continued US diplomatic presence in Kabul and maintaining liaison with the Afghan military.
Austin’s plan calls for the top commander in Afghanistan, Army General Scott Miller, to transfer his war officers to the Florida-based chief of US Central Command, Marine General Frank McKenzie, before leaving his command this month.
In addition, a two-star Navy admiral will head a US embassy-based military office, called US Forces Afghanistan-Forward, which will oversee the new mission of providing security for the embassy and its diplomats.
A satellite military office based in Qatar and headed by a US one-star general will be established to provide US financial support for the Afghan army and police, as well as maintenance support for Afghan aircraft from outside Afghanistan.
Kirby said Miller, who is already the US military’s longest-serving commander in Afghanistan in 20 years of war, would be in command for “a few weeks” longer, but did not get more specific.
He said Miller would prepare and carry out his business duties for McKenzie and would also travel in and out of Afghanistan.
Miller met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday and discussed “continued US assistance and cooperation with Afghanistan, particularly in support of defense and security forces,” according to a tweet from the presidential palace’s Dari language. .
Bagram Airfield has been a center of war to drive out the Taliban and to hunt down al-Qaeda perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US.
At its peak in and around 2012, Bagram Airfield saw more than 100,000 US troops pass through the sprawling compound, barely an hour’s drive north of Kabul.
Meanwhile, Bagram’s Afghanistan district administrator Darvesh Roufi said the US departure was done overnight without any coordination with local officials, and as a result, by early Friday, dozens of local robbers broke through unsafe gates before Afghan forces came under control. went through.
“They were intercepted and some have been arrested and the rest have been removed from base,” Roufi told the Associated Press. He said the robbers ransacked several buildings before being arrested and Afghan forces took control.
However, US military spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett said the handover was an “extensive process” that lasted several weeks and began shortly after Biden’s announcement in mid-April that the US was withdrawing its final forces.
“All handovers of the Resolute Support Base and facilities to include Bagram Airfield, closely coordinated both with senior government leaders and with our Afghan partners in the security forces, including the leadership of locally based units belonging to each base have been done.” Colonel Leggett said.
Taliban welcome US withdrawal from Bagram airfield. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that Friday’s departure was a “positive step”, urging the “withdrawal of foreign forces from all parts of the country”.
As of this week, most other NATO troops have already quietly exited Afghanistan. Declarations from several countries analyzed by the AP show that most European troops have left with little ceremony – in contrast to the dramatic and public displays of force and unity when NATO allies prepared to support the US offensive in 2001. .
The US declined to say when the last US soldier would leave Afghanistan, citing security concerns, but future security and security for Kabul International Airport are still being negotiated. Turkish and US troops are currently guarding the airport, which is still under the Resolute Support Mission, the military mission being called off.
Until a new agreement for the airport is reached by the Turkish and Afghan government, and possibly the United States, it appears that the Resolute Support Mission will have to remain in charge of the facility.

STAY TUNED WITH US FOR MORE INTERESTING CONTENT ONLY ON DESINEW.XYZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *