The United States will invalidate major Afghanistan bases. Pullout target now “late August”

Approximately 20 years after invading Afghanistan to expel the Taliban and hunt down al-Qaeda, US troops vacated the country’s largest airfield and proceeded with a final withdrawal, which the Pentagon said would be completed by the end of August on Friday.

President Joe Biden has instructed the Pentagon to complete the military withdrawal by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States, but said the Pentagon can now complete the withdrawal a little earlier. There is. In fact, the drawdown is almost complete and officials have said they can put it together this weekend. However, there is no formal termination of the withdrawal as many relevant issues need to be resolved in the coming weeks, including discussions with Turkey on Kabul’s new U.S. military command system and arrangements to keep Kabul Airport safe. It was announced shortly.

“With a safe and orderly drawdown, we will maintain a continuous diplomatic presence, support the people and government of Afghanistan, and hope that Afghanistan will once again become a safe haven for terrorists who threaten our hometown. It can be prevented, “said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

Meanwhile, the government is narrowing options to secure thousands of Afghan people whose special visa applications to the United States have not yet been approved. The government has already said it is ready to evacuate them to a third country waiting for visa approval, but has not yet decided where they are. Officials said Friday to move them to neighboring countries in Central Asia that could protect them from the possibility of retaliation by the Taliban and other groups.

The White House and the State Department refused to comment on the number of relocations and where they could go, but Tajikistan and Uzbekistan’s foreign ministers are in Washington this week, and Afghanistan’s security subject is that they are the Secretary of Defense. Secretary of Defense Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin raised at the conference.

Kirby said on Friday that Austin approved a new command regime in Afghanistan, shifting US military missions from combat to two new objectives.

In Austin’s plan, Afghanistan’s commander-in-chief, Admiral Scott Miller, gave his combat authority to Admiral Frank Mackenzie, the head of the Florida-based U.S. Central Army, before relinquishing his command this month. I want to move it. The two-star Admiral will also lead a military office based at the U.S. Embassy called the U.S. Army Afghanistan Forward to oversee the new mission of providing security to the embassy and its diplomats. ..

A Qatar-based satellite military office led by a one-star US general will be set up to provide US financial support to Afghan troops and police, as well as maintenance support for Afghan aircraft from outside Afghanistan.

Kirby said Miller, the commander of the U.S. military, who has already served the longest in Afghanistan in the 20-year war, will take command for “weeks” longer, but less concretely. Miller said he would prepare and complete the transfer of duties to Mackenzie and travel inside and outside Afghanistan.

Miller met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday, and according to a Dari tweet from the presidential residence, the two said they would “continue to support and cooperate with the United States with Afghanistan, especially in support of defense forces and security forces.” It was.

Bagram Airfield was the epicenter of the war to expel the Taliban and hunt down al-Qaeda perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. At its peak in and around 2012, Bagram Airfield saw more than 100,000 US troops pass through a huge site just an hour’s drive north of Kabul.

Meanwhile, Afghan Bagram district manager Dawish Rauffy said the U.S. departure took place overnight without coordination with local authorities, resulting in early Friday, before Afghan troops regained control. Dozens of local predators have attacked the defenseless gates, he said.

“They were stopped, some were arrested, and the rest were removed from the base,” Rauffy told The Associated Press that looters plundered several buildings before they were arrested and were dominated by Afghan troops. Added.

However, U.S. military spokesman Sonny Leggett said the delivery was a “extensive process” over several weeks, beginning shortly after Biden’s mid-April announcement that the United States would withdraw its last unit. ..

“All delivery of solid support bases and facilities, including Bagram Airfield, is closely coordinated with both senior government leaders and Afghan partners of security forces, with local units at each base. Also includes the leaders of, “said Colonel Legget.

The Taliban welcomed the withdrawal of the United States from Bagram Airfield. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that Friday’s departure was a “positive step” and called for “withdrawal of foreign troops from all over the country.”

As of this week, most other NATO soldiers have already quietly left Afghanistan. Announcements from several countries analyzed by AP show that the majority of European troops left with little ritual. This is in stark contrast to the dramatic public force and unity show when NATO allies lined up to support the US invasion in 2001.

The United States has refused to say when the last American soldier will leave Afghanistan because of security concerns, but is also negotiating the future security and protection of Kabul International Airport. Turkish and US soldiers are currently protecting the airport, but under solid support missions.

It seems that a solid support mission will have to continue to take charge of the facility until the Turkish and Afghan governments, and perhaps the United States, reach a new agreement on the airport.

Robert Burns and Kathy Gannon

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