President Joe Biden announced Thursday the drawdown of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan will be completed by Aug. 31, bringing America’s longest war to a swift ending and setting the deadline date as August 31, eleven days earlier than the September date he set previously this year. as instability and violence ratchet up in the region.
“Our military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on Aug. 31. The drawdown is proceeding in a secure and orderly way, prioritizing the safety of our troops as they depart,” Biden said.
“We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build. And it’s the right and the responsibility of Afghan people, alone, to decide their future and how they want to run their country,” the president continued. Biden said he was advised by his military commanders to move swiftly once the drawdown began, declaring “speed is safety” as he outlined the end of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan.
Biden also said, “It was time to end the nation’s longest war, noting 2,448 Americans were killed, 20,722 more wounded and untold thousands coming home with unseen trauma to their mental health,” adding, “I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome.”
The new deadline comes as the Taliban continue to gain new territory at an alarming pace, raising concerns the militant Islamic group could topple the Afghan government. Asked if a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is now inevitable, Biden said, “It isn’t because the Afghan troops have 300,000 well-equipped, as well-equipped as any army in the world, and an air force, against something like 75,000 Talban.”
Biden told reporters it was not inevitable and he repeated, “It is not inevitable and that he trusts the ability of the Afghan National and Defense Security Forces, who is “better trained, better equipped and more competent in terms of conducting war.”
The White House has been steadfast in adhering to its plan to end military operations in the country by the end of August, despite criticism from some U.S. officials and Republicans who warn the Taliban’s rapid advancement could soon overtake the capital of Kabul.