US has started preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan, top general says
The United States has begun the process of preparing to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, months before President Biden’s goal of pulling all troops from the region.
U.S. Army Gen. Scott Miller, commander of US Forces Afghanistan and NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, confirmed to reporters in Kabul on Sunday that “all of our forces are now preparing to retrograde.”
“Officially, the notification date will be the first of May. But at the same time, as we start taking local actions, we’ve already begun that,” Miller continued, when asked during a news conference if American withdrawal from bases had begun.
Earlier this month, Biden announced that the U.S. would withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that led to the longest war in American history.
In a speech from the White House, Biden said that the reasons for keeping troops in the war-torn country have become “increasingly unclear,” as the terrorist threat has become more dispersed in recent years.
Miller told reporters “I now have a set of orders” and “some very clear objectives,” adding that the U.S. will “conduct an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan,” and “ensure that the Afghan security forces are in the best possible security posture.”
Miller, however, told reporters that the foreign forces will still have the “military means and capability” to remain protected during the withdrawal process, and support the Afghan security forces.
“We have the military means and capability to fully protect our force during retrograde as well as support the Afghan security forces,” Miller said.
Miller also said he warned the Taliban that a “return to violence” would be a “tragedy for Afghanistan and the Afghan people.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to talk to Taliban members with the Taliban Political Commission, and I’ve told them a return to violence, an effort to force a military decision would be a tragedy for Afghanistan and the Afghan people,” Miller continued.
Miller said that during the withdrawal process, the U.S. will return military bases primarily to the Afghan Ministry of Defense and other Afghan forces.
“There’s certain equipment that we must take back to our countries. That’s a requirement. But wherever possible, if we do not have to, we’re looking to ensure that the Afghan security forces have the bases, pieces of equipment, parts that are necessary for the functioning of the military,” Miller said.
The withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan will end America’s longest war, which has accounted for the deaths of more than 2,300 troops, and has cost the country as much as $1 trillion.
Biden’s goal of pulling out all troops by Sept. 11 pushed back former President Trump’s deadline, which was May 1. The original date was set in an agreement with the Taliban signed last year by the Trump administration.
Updated: 11:41 p.m.