The last U.S. military combat deaths in Afghanistan occurred on February 8, 2020, one year ago today. The last troops killed in action on this date were Army Sgts. 1st Class Javier Gutierrez and Antonio Rodriguez.
Shortly after those deaths, the Trump administration brokered a peace deal with the Taliban. In the agreed deal by the Taliban and the U.S., the U.S. would withdraw forces from the country by May 1, 2021. The deal faces an uncertain future now that President Biden is in office.
The current drawdown has already seen the U.S. troop presence in the country reduced from 13,000 troops last year to 2,500 by mid-January of this year, with the rest of the troops to depart on the scheduled May 1, 2021 date.
A Biden congressional panel released a report last week that said a peace deal should not be based on “an inflexible timeline but on all parties fulfilling their commitments, including the Taliban making good on its promises to contain terrorist groups and reduce violence against the Afghan people, and making compromises to achieve a political settlement.” The report called on the timeline for full withdrawal from the country by the U.S. to be pushed back.
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s National Security Adviser, said that the Biden administration was taking a hard look at the extent to which the Taliban are complying with the deal before making any final determinations on troop movements.
The Taliban have threatened to resume hostilities with the U.S. forces if the Biden administration does not stick to the timeline established under Trump, saying that if U.S. forces remain in the country after May, “we will also kill them.”
Adam Weinstein, a former Marine who served in Afghanistan and is now a research fellow for the Middle East at the Qunicy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, warned that staying in Afghanistan past the established deadline could drag U.S. troops back into a violent counterinsurgency.
In my opinion, I believe the best we can hope for is that Biden will honor the withdrawal date and bring our troops home. We have been there since the start of the war in October 2001. That means we have been there almost 20 years and have lost almost 2,400 troops with another 20,719 U.S. service members wounded, according to the Defense Department. It is time to come home.
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