U.S. and Allied Troops to Leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11
President Joe Biden said officially that U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan starting May 1 to end America’s longest war, rejecting calls for them to stay to ensure a peaceful resolution to that nation’s grinding internal conflict.
Foreign troops under NATO command will also withdraw from Afghanistan in coordination with the U.S. pull-out, NATO allies agreed. The withdrawal of foreign troops will be completed by Sept 11.
Around 7,000 non-U.S. forces from mainly NATO countries, also from Australia, New Zealand and Georgia, outnumber the 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but they still rely on American air support, planning and leadership.
Biden acknowledged that U.S. objectives in Afghanistan had become “increasingly unclear” over the past decade and set a deadline for withdrawing all U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan by Sept. 11, exactly 20 years after al Qaeda’s attacks on the United States that triggered the war.
But by pulling out without a clear victory over the Taliban and other radicals in Afghanistan, the United States opens itself to criticism that a withdrawal represents a de facto admission of failure for American military strategy.
“It was never meant to be a multi-generational undertaking. We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives,” Biden said, noting that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces in 2011 and saying that organization has been “degraded” in Afghanistan.
“And it’s time to end the forever war,” Biden added.
The war has cost the lives of 2,448 American service members and consumed an estimated $2 trillion. U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan peaked at more than 100,000 in 2011./reuters
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