Pentagon releases photo of last soldier to leave Afghanistan
The Pentagon released a photo of the last soldier to leave Afghanistan, whose departure marked the end of America’s longest war after 20 years of military involvement in the country.
The photo posted by the Defense Department shows Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, boarding a U.S. Air Force C-17 on Monday.
The Pentagon said Donahue boarding the military plane marked the formal end of “the U.S. mission in Kabul.”
The last American soldier to leave Afghanistan: Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, commanding general of the @82ndABNDiv, @18airbornecorps boards an @usairforce C-17 on August 30th, 2021, ending the U.S. mission in Kabul. pic.twitter.com/j5fPx4iv6a
— Department of Defense (@DeptofDefense) August 30, 2021
The final C-17 left the Kabul airport at 3:29 p.m. EDT, according to U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Frank McKenzie.
The time was one minute shy of midnight in Afghanistan, which was President Biden’s deadline to remove all U.S. troops in the country.
“I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the mission to evacuate American citizens, third-country nationals and vulnerable Afghans,” McKenzie told reporters in Washington on Monday.
“Every single U.S. service member is now out of Afghanistan,” he later added.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday evening said “under 200 and likely closer to 100” American citizens are still in Afghanistan, but officials are still working to find out an exact number.
The final C-17 departure marked the end of America’s longest war. It also brought an end to a messy and chaotic evacuation and withdrawal process that days ago claimed the lives of 13 U.S. service members after an explosion went off at an airport gate.
McKenzie on Monday said that while “the military phase of this operation has ended … the diplomatic sequel to that will now begin.”
“I believe our Department of State is going to work very hard to allow any American citizens that are left — and we think the citizens that were not brought out number in the low, very low hundreds. I believe that we’re going to be able to get those people out. I think that we’re also going to negotiate very hard, very aggressively to get our other Afghan partners out,” McKenzie said.
“The weapons have just shifted, if you will, from the military realm to the diplomatic realm,” he added.
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