Pentagon Seeks to Soften Blow of U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan

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The August date also gives the government more time to find places to relocate thousands of Afghans and their family members who helped Americans during the Twenty Years’ War. The White House has come under severe pressure to protect its Afghan allies from Taliban revenge attacks and to speed up the lengthy and complex process of issuing special immigrant visas.

Administration officials previously said they would consider Guam as a possible location, but State Department officials say they will need multiple locations. The Foreign Ministers of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were in Washington last week and the issue of Afghan security was raised at their meetings with Mr. Austin and Foreign Secretary Antony J. Blinken.

After all, General Miller’s stay for a few more weeks and the extension of the security umbrella at least until August should give the oppressed Afghan troops a boost. Pentagon officials said leaving Bagram Air Base and leaving General Miller at the same time would have been a devastating blow to Afghan morale.

“A safe, orderly exit allows us to maintain an ongoing diplomatic presence, assist the Afghan people and government, and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven again for terrorists threatening our homeland,” Kirby said.

The White House joined the calming campaign on Friday – up to a point. Mr Biden said that while the United States still retained the ability to conduct air strikes in order to protect the Afghan government, no withdrawal of the withdrawal was on the table.

“We have developed a capacity beyond the horizon,” he said, speaking of American fighter jets and armed Reaper drones stationed mostly in the Persian Gulf, “but the Afghans have to do it themselves with the air force that they have.” . “

But all American combat troops and planes are now out of Afghanistan, officials said, so any military support for Afghan forces must come from American bases eight hours away in Qatar or the United Arab Emirates.