President BidenJoe BidenUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Biden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Biden to tap law professor who wants to 'end banking as we know it' as OCC chief: reports MORE on Wednesday will meet with the U.S. general who until recently was the top commander in Afghanistan as the U.S. withdrawal from America’s longest war comes to a close.
Biden is meeting with Army Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller to thank him for his “extraordinary service in Afghanistan,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Biden employs flurry of meetings to unite warring factions Democratic anger grows over treatment of Haitian migrants MORE said in a statement to reporters Wednesday afternoon.
“As the final commander of the Resolute Support Mission, General Miller oversaw the vast majority of our drawdown from Afghanistan, which is a particularly vulnerable period for our troops,” Psaki continued. “That this drawdown has been conducted in such an orderly and safe way is a testament to General Miller’s leadership, and the President looks forward to personally thanking him later today.”
The timing of the private meeting is unclear.
Miller arrived at Joint Base Andrews earlier Wednesday and was greeted by Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinPentagon 'aware' of reports Wisconsin military base's struggle to feed, heat Afghan refugees Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Afghan evacuation still frustrates MORE and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Defense bill takes center stage If DOD wants small business contracts, it has to cut the red tape Top US general: Meeting with Russian counterpart 'productive' MORE. The two leaders shook hands with Miller, and the group exchanged brief words before departing the tarmac.
Miller stepped down as the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan on Monday afternoon, roughly three years after he took over the post, a symbolic end to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan that has lasted two decades.
The withdrawal is currently about 95 percent complete, according to U.S. Central Command. In a speech defending his decision to withdraw troops after 20 years of war, Biden said last week that the U.S. military mission would fully end on Aug. 31, ahead of his Sept. 11 deadline.
“I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome,” Biden said in the speech Thursday from the White House. “The United States cannot afford to remain tethered to policies creating a response to a world as it was 20 years ago. We need to meet the threats where they are today.”
The Biden administration on Wednesday announced the formal launch of “Operation Allies Refuge” to evacuate Afghans who assisted U.S. troops in Afghanistan and now face threats from the Taliban. A senior administration official said that flights out of Afghanistan for those who are in the process of obtaining special immigrant visas will begin the last week of July.
As U.S. troops have withdrawn, the Taliban have made gains in the region. Lawmakers and advocates have pressed the administration for swift action on evacuating Afghan interpreters and their families.
Biden told reporters last week that he does not believe it is inevitable that the Taliban will take over Afghanistan.
Rebecca Kheel contributed.