US withdrawal from Afghanistan nearly at halfway point one month into effort
The U.S. military is nearly at the halfway point in pulling its forces from Afghanistan only a month into the effort, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday.
U.S. Central Command estimates that it has completed “between 30 to 44 percent of the entire retrograde process,” Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon.
He added that the Defense Department has shipped roughly 300 C-17 aircraft loads of material out of Afghanistan and has turned nearly 13,000 pieces of equipment over to the Defense Logistics Agency for destruction since the withdrawal began on May 1.
President Biden in April ordered all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that sparked America’s longest conflict. Several reports, however, have indicated the withdrawal could be completed as soon as July.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that the withdrawal is “slightly ahead” of schedule, but he did not offer further details of the pace.
Centcom, which offers weekly updates on the withdrawal effort, gives only ranges for completion and does not specify how many troops have left the country.
Washington has also officially handed over six facilities to the Afghan Ministry of Defense, according to a Centcom statement released earlier Tuesday.
Agence France-Presse reported earlier Tuesday that U.S. forces will be handing over their main Bagram Air Base to Afghan forces in roughly 20 days, though Kirby would not confirm the report.
“I’ve seen the press report on Bagram. I’m obviously not going to get ahead of specific retrograde milestones,” Kirby said.
He added that Bagram — which was built by the Soviet Union in the 1980s and serves as the U.S. and NATO forces’ biggest military facility in Afghanistan — will be turned over as part of the withdrawal, but he would not confirm the timing, citing operational security.
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