1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, watch CH-47 Chinook helicopters during a dust storm at Forward Operating Base Kushamond, Afghanistan, July 17, while preparing for an air strike mission above circle.
U.S. Army photo
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon said Monday it had not decided whether to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan as Washington contemplates a possible end to America’s longest war.
“Everyone here is aware of the upcoming deadlines,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters during a press conference. “And today I cannot outline for you what specific plans will be made if a decision has not yet been made about the future position of the armed forces in Afghanistan,” he said.
In February 2020, the United States signed a treaty with the Taliban that would usher in a permanent ceasefire and further reduce the US military’s footprint from around 13,000 soldiers to 8,600 by mid-July last year.
According to the agreement, all foreign armed forces would have left the war-weary country by May 2021. There are currently around 2,500 US troops in the country.
Last month, the most powerful military alliance in the world met to discuss a number of challenges facing the group of 30. The way forward in Afghanistan was at the top of the agenda. NATO joined the international security effort in Afghanistan in 2003 and currently has more than 7,000 soldiers in the country.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would continue to assess the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.
“Our goal is to ensure that we have a lasting political agreement that will allow us to leave in a way that doesn’t undermine our primary objective and that prevents Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven again.” [for terrorists]”Said Stoltenberg.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters shortly after the NATO meeting that the withdrawal of US troops in Afghanistan would depend on reducing violence in the country.
“The violence needs to decrease now,” Austin said in his first press conference with reporters. “I have told our allies that regardless of the outcome of our review, the United States will not make a hasty or disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan,” he said, referring to the NATO virtual meetings.
“There will be no surprises. We will consult, consult together and decide together and act together,” said Austin of the NATO-led mission.
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The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have cost US taxpayers more than $ 1.57 trillion since September 11, 2001, according to a Department of Defense report. The war in Afghanistan began 19 years ago and cost US taxpayers $ 193 billion, according to the Pentagon.