UPDATED 6:50 AM PT – Saturday, April 24, 2021
The Pentagon has released new logistical details regarding the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. On Friday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had approved additional support to aid the withdrawal movement, which is slated to conclude by September 11.
“He has approved some additional measures today,” Kirby said. “He has approved the extension of the USS Eisenhower to remain in the Central Command area of responsibility for a period of time. And he has approved the addition of some long-range bombers to be deployed to the region.”
However, it isn’t just air and sea support that will be in the region. Kirby revealed that before the men and women serving abroad can return home, more troops will be deployed in the meantime.
“It’s entirely possible that there will be a temporary increase of some ground forces and enablers, not just for force protection, but also for logistical and engineering support that will have to go into Afghanistan to help us make sure this drawdown gets done on the timeline and in a safe, orderly way,” the Defense Press Secretary stated.
Sending in the cavalry isn’t surprising as concerns have been raised that once the U.S. misses the original May 1 withdrawal deadline, the Taliban may launch a new campaign of violence.
U.S. CENTCOM Commander General Frank McKenzie explained the scenario was a serious threat the administration was aware of, and yet, would be moving ahead with a later withdrawal.
“We are planning collaboratively with our interagency and their international measures and will take all measures to ensure the safe and orderly withdrawal of all of our forces and those of our partners,” Gen. McKenzie said. “This includes positioning significant combat power to guard against the possibility that the Taliban decide to interfere in any way with our orderly redeployment.”
BREAKING: New Statement from the Office of President Trump: pic.twitter.com/cn3mUa2niu
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Attacks initially slowed after President Trump negotiated a temporary peace deal with the Taliban in February of 2020, but since Biden took office there has been little evidence to support the idea that the Taliban will abide by any terms of peace.
While Biden has taken credit for ending the two-decades-long conflict, McKenzie said that the end being celebrated wasn’t exactly what it seemed as forces would be leaving Afghanistan, but may not be returning home.
“Additionally, although we are going to pull out of Afghanistan, I’m operating under the concept that for U.S. military presence, zero is going to be zero,” McKenzie continued. “We will have architecture in the theater that will allow us to look into Afghanistan. It will not give us the same picture that we’ve got now. It will allow us to see in. The ranges will be greater, the resources will be greater, the risks will all be greater.”
With the apparent repositioning of troops in Afghanistan underway, the question remains: When will those men and women return home for good?