US troop pullout from Afghanistan now expected to be complete by mid-July: report
U.S. troops are reportedly expected to be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan by mid-July, almost two months ahead of the Sept. 11 deadline previously announced.
Military officials told The New York Times that they intend for U.S. troops, along with NATO allies, to be out of Afghanistan by mid-July, despite unresolved issues regarding how threats in the region will be handled from afar.
“Withdrawing forces is actually a really delicate kind of operation that has risks associated with it,” former Under Secretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy told the Times.
“There’s a lot they have to work through before the last person steps on the plane — especially when you have allies on the ground who are going to inherit what we are leaving behind,” Flournoy added.
Asked about the pace of the drawdown, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby would not comment “about what the exact time frame is going to end up being,” for the withdrawal’s completion.
“The president’s direction was clear, to be complete with the withdrawal by early September,” Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday.
“We’re moving at pace. I don’t have anything more specific to add with respect to schedule.”
The Times noted that after President Biden announced the full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, Pentagon officials began working to make sure the time between the announcement of the withdrawal and its completion was as short as possible.
Officials told the newspaper that the Pentagon hoped to avoid a single combat-related death following Biden’s announcement last month, which might elicit public outcry over American troops being put at risk for a lost cause.
According to the Times, officials also realized that there was not much left to physically remove from Afghanistan, as the prior administrations had already cut down troop presence to around 3,500.
Ellen Mitchell contributed to this report, which was updated at 5:13 p.m.