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World

U.S. to complete Afghan withdrawal by mid-July ahead of Biden’s September deadline, reports NYT

  • The United States and their NATO allies have accelerated their withdrawal from Afghanistan, intending to be out of the war-torn country as early as mid-July, which is significantly earlier to their original September 11 deadline.
  • The Pentagon has yet to determine how terrorist threats like an Al Qaeda resurgence could be contained in the absence of American military presence.
Updated 26 May 2021

The United States and their NATO allies have accelerated their withdrawal from Afghanistan, intending to be out of the war-torn country as early as mid-July, which is significantly earlier to their original September 11 deadline, as reported by the New York Times.

Unfortunately, this dramatic change of pace during the withdrawal process has left the United States and its allies with a plethora of unresolved issues and challenges in the country, which would likely keep the international coalition involved in Afghanistan in the foreseeable future.

The Pentagon has yet to determine how terrorist threats like an Al Qaeda resurgence could be contained in the absence of American military presence.

Furthermore, there is no formal strategic plan in place that pertains to providing a certain degree of military support to the Afghan National Army, which would make the outcome of the country's major cities falling to the Taliban increasingly likely.

According to Michele A. Flournoy, former Under Secretary for Defense under the Obama Administration, "Withdrawing forces is actually a really delicate kind of operation that has risks associated with it [...] 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".

President Biden overruled his military advisers who recommended a residual American troop presence in the country to facilitate counter-terrorism operations.

Reportedly, the Pentagon was struggling to prepare for what could potentially be a nightmare scenario - a combat-related death of an American soldier in Afghanistan amidst the withdrawal process, which could prompt a public outcry against the hastily managed conclusive withdrawal from the country.

Officials have yet to plan the security of the Kabul International Airport, which would facilitate the diplomatic presence of other countries in Afghanistan, with Australia having already announcing the temporary closure of its embassy in Kabul until the security situation improves.

The Kandahar Airfield, one of the largest American bases in the country, was discreetly closed this month in addition to other smaller bases, with key military hardware being moved to Bagram.

The Bagram Air Base, the largest American base in the country and the current hub of operations for the withdrawal process, will be the last base that the United States will leave behind.

Over 17,000 private contractors, of which 6000 are American citizens, are also expected to leave with the allied military forces, leaving Afghanistan's military forces without vital support and intelligence, and potentially sparking wider doubts about troops breaking ranks.

According to Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "There’s a significant military capability in the Afghan government. And we have to see how this plays out".

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