(Washington) The US Department of Defense (Pentagon) said today, Monday, that the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan may slow down in light of the Taliban’s military progress on the ground, stressing that this will not raise questions about the date of September 11.
“The plans can fluctuate and change if the situation changes,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby noted during a news conference on the Taliban’s advance, which surrounds many large Afghan cities.
“If there are any changes that need to be made in the pace, scope or volume of withdrawals on any given day or week, we want to maintain flexibility to do so,” he said.
“There are two things that have not changed,” the spokesman added. First, we will complete the complete withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan except for those that will remain to protect the diplomatic presence, and second, it will be done by early September, as ordered by the Commander in Chief, President Joe Biden.
The latter decided in April, against military advice, to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. More than 50% of the withdrawals have already been completed.
John Kirby said that the US military continues to provide air support to Afghan forces, but stressed that this support will not continue until the last day of the US military presence in Afghanistan.
As long as we have the capabilities in Afghanistan, we will continue to provide assistance to Afghan forces, but when the withdrawal nears its end, those capabilities will be reduced and no longer available.
John Kirby, Pentagon spokesman
“As I talk to you, we still provide some support, but that will change,” he warned.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his government’s chief negotiator in talks with the Taliban, Abdullah Abdullah, are due to arrive at the White House on Friday.