Final U.S. Troops Leave Afghanistan After Nearly Two Decades

Image Credit: Australian Institute of International Affairs by CPL Sam Shepherd; Creative Commons License

Contributing Writer Shahina Alibekova, ’23

On August 31, the last U.S. forces in Afghanistan left Kabul after almost two decades in the country. The war between the U.S. and Afghanistan started after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. However, The Biden Administration decided to put an end to it once and for all, believing that it had been going on for too long.

The Pentagon reported that the last American troops had left Afghanistan, bringing an end to one of the country’s longest wars. “Every single US service member is out of Afghanistan, I can say that with perfect assurance,” said General Kenneth F. McKenzie, commander of US Central Command.

The U.S. presence in Afghanistan has been longstanding. It began soon after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, which were orchestrated by a terrorist group leader, Osama bin Laden. The invasion of Afghanistan was meant to take out Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda group, as well as the extremist Taliban government, which had dominated most of the country since 1996. This was a large deal to the U.S. because the Taliban government and sponsored and shielded al-Qaeda. About 2,461 U.S. service members died throughout the 20-year battle. This includes the recent 13 military members that were killed in an ISIS-K suicide attack just days before the Pentagon announced they would be leaving. 

In a statement, President Joe Biden stated, “In their [Joint Chiefs and all commanders on the ground] opinion, ending our military mission was the best approach to safeguard our troops’ lives while also ensuring the possibility of civilian departures for those who wanted to leave Afghanistan in the next few weeks and months.”

Even though the U.S. no longer has a military or diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the U.S. will remain dedicated to the country’s remaining Americans and to vulnerable Afghans. Diplomats deployed to Afghanistan will now operate out of Doha, Qatar. According to Blinken, “under 200, most likely closer to 100” Americans still remain in Afghanistan.

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