US Deploying 3,000 Troops to Afghanistan to Assist in Departure of Embassy Staff, Pentagon Reveals
19:00 GMT 12.08.2021 (Updated: 20:03 GMT 12.08.2021)
© AP Photo / Kevin FrayerUnited States Marines from the 2nd Battalion 2nd Marines "Warlords" and Afghan National Army soldiers walk in formation during an operation in the Garmsir district of the volatile Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009
© AP Photo / Kevin Frayer
Earlier, the US State Department ordered the evacuation of staff at the US embassy in Afghanistan in light of the "security conditions" being posed by the increasing control by the Taliban. Officials, however, have also stressed that the move it part of ongoing withdrawal procedures from the war-torn nation.
The US Department of Defense revealed on Thursday that it will be sending approximately 3,000 US troops to Afghanistan as part of the branch's efforts to assist in the departure of diplomats and other American civilians in the country.
The Thursday revelation was announced by Pentagon spokesperson Adm. John Kirby, who also informed reporters that the additional troops would be on top of the 650 US troops already stationed in Afghanistan.
Kirby explained that 3,000 troops would be deployed to the Hamid Karzai International Airport over the "next few days," and that a reserve force of 3,500 to 4,000 will stage out of Kuwait. Forces being ordered to Kuwait will be pulled from a combat team based out of North Carolina's Fort Bragg.
"This is about prudent preparations," the admiral underscored when asked about the high troop figures. "We believe it’s appropriate to the security situation."
Kirby went on to explain that officials are also anticipating the possibility of undertaking airlifting measures in order to quicken withdrawal procedures for diplomats, as well as applicants for the newly-launched visa process in Afghanistan.
When asked whether Kabul airport would be used as a headquarters to stage airstrikes, Kirby rejected the notion and emphasized that "there is no planning and no discussion of using Hamid Karzai International Airport as a base for conducting airstrikes in and around Afghanistan."
The official further detailed that there are no current plans to break the August deadline. "The drawdown itself is still on track to be complete by August 31," he stressed.
Kirby's remarks came just moments after Ned Price, spokesperson for the US State Department, confirmed to reporters staff at the US embassy would be drawn down. Although Price did not provide specifics in terms of titles and positions, he did state that it would be personnel who are able to perform their functions elsewhere.
"This is not a full evacuation," he stressed, before going on underscore that the US embassy would remain open at its current location, and that departure procedures in no way indicate that the US is "abandoning" Afghanistan amid the increase in the Taliban's reach.
In addition to the US troops being sent to the region, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace also revealed on Thursday that the British government will be dispatching about 600 troops to Afghanistan in order to aid in evacuation procedures.
The latest developments come on the heels of repeat announcements from the Taliban that the group has gained control of 11 of Afghanistan's 34 provincial capitals. In fact, earlier Thursday, the militant force declared that it had captured the Herat police headquarters after fighting Afghan security forces.