U.S. is likely to strengthen Afghan troops to ensure safe drawdowns

Washington (AP) — The Pentagon will temporarily implement President Joe Biden’s order to safely withdraw all troops from the country by September 11 over the coming weeks and months. He said it is likely to increase the military presence in Afghanistan.

Pentagon chief spokesman John Kirby refused to provide the details, saying the details are still under consideration. But he says: “Logistics assistance, engineering assistance may be needed to ensure that drawdowns are done in a safe, orderly and effective manner, and temporary unit protection capabilities need to be added. It may be .. “.

Biden announced on Wednesday that the United States would withdraw all of its more than 2,500 troops from Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaeda terrorist attack on the United States, which triggered the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. NATO has announced that it will follow the same schedule to withdraw more than 7,000 Allied forces.

The president’s decision violates the May 1 withdrawal deadline agreed by the Trump administration as part of a peace agreement with the Taliban. Instead, Biden said the US withdrawal would begin on May 1.

At the Pentagon press conference on Friday, Kirby knew very little about the pace and timing of the drawdown. He said it was unclear how many troops would leave the country by May 1 as a signal to the Taliban that the United States was in compliance with its new plan to begin leaving the country.

The Taliban warned that if the United States did not comply with the Trump administration’s agreement, it would retaliate. And these threats are an important concern for the Pentagon. The Pentagon is trying to safely move the military and perhaps millions of dollars out of the country.

Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and others have revealed that the United States is strongly aware of the Taliban’s threat and that attacks on personnel and facilities in the United States or its allies will face a strong reaction from the United States.

Kirby also said it was unclear whether US contractors would remain in the country. He said the goal was to eliminate all Pentagon personnel, “I think contractors will be part of it.” But he added that it is not clear if there is an ongoing reason to maintain the support of any contractor in the country.

As of last year, the Pentagon funded more than 22,000 contractors, more than one-third of whom were Americans, according to the Congressional Research Service. The total included more than 4,000 armed and unarmed private security contractors, of whom more than 1,800 were armed.

Pentagon contractors perform a variety of tasks, from convoy protection and security escorts to training, engineering, and maintenance tasks.

Defense officials and military commanders have been planning the withdrawal of US troops for several months, inspired by the peace agreement and the Trump administration’s relentless desire to end the war. However, the Pentagon has been able to successfully argue that a complete withdrawal is unwise over the past year or more, and will deprive the United States of any influence with the Taliban in peace talks.

In defending the new withdrawal plan, the Biden administration claimed that the United States and its NATO allies had achieved their goal of killing al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and destroying his network. And officials say the U.S. military will maintain assets in the region to ensure that Afghanistan is no longer used as a base for terrorist attacks on the United States.

Many US legislators and human rights groups have accused the decision, saying that the withdrawal of the military could disrupt Afghanistan’s security and undermine the interests of governance, democracy and women’s rights. And military critics have raised the question that the United States could continue to put pressure on terrorist groups, including Islamic State affiliates that maintain their presence in Afghanistan.

Austin said the United States will maintain its “capacity” to combat terrorism in the region to continue to put pressure on militant groups operating in Afghanistan. Asked for details, he declined to elaborate on where or how many of those US troops were.

Possible solutions include satellite and other surveillance, armed and unarmed drones, and the use of US troops located in neighboring countries and at sea.