Biden Increases US Troops in Afghanistan to 5,000 For 'Safe Drawdown' of US Personnel
20:03 GMT 14.08.2021 (Updated: 04:19 GMT 15.08.2021)
© REUTERS / US ARMYU.S. Army soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division and U.S. contractors prepare Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, MRAPs, to be transported off of base in support of the withdrawal mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan, August 21, 2020. Picture taken August 21, 2020. U.S. Army/Sgt. Jeffery J. Harris
Earlier in the week, the Pentagon announced the redeployment of 3,000 American troops to Afghanistan to assist in the evacuation of US diplomats as the Taliban continues to advance in the country. The latter has reportedly asserted that it has established control over 90% of Afghan territory.
US President Joe Biden stated on Saturday that he had authorised the deployment of approximately 5,000 US troops in Afghanistan to "make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of US personnel and other allied personnel and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban* advance".
The president also warned that any action by the Taliban that poses a risk to US personnel or "our mission" in Afghanistan will be met "with a swift and strong US military response".
"I have ordered our armed forces and our intelligence community to ensure that we will maintain the capability and the vigilance to address future terrorist threats from Afghanistan", Biden stated.
The statement also notes that Biden has ordered Secretary of State Antony Blinken to provide support for the Afghan government as the latter tries to "prevent further bloodshed and pursue a political settlement".
The American president additionally revealed that he has appointed Ambassador Tracey Jacobson to be in charge of Washington's efforts to "process, transport, and relocate Afghan special immigrant visa applicants and other Afghan allies".
To finalise the statement, Biden made a promise that he will be the last American president to deal with war in Afghanistan.
"I was the fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth", Biden pledged.
He also explained his move to withdraw American troops from the country, referring to his predecessor, former US President Donald Trump, who "left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on US forces".
"Shortly before he left office, he also drew US forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500", Biden continued. "Therefore, when I became president, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies' forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country's civil conflict".
The presidential statement comes shortly after the Taliban reportedly asserted that it had established control over 90% of Afghan territory, most recently having captured Sharana, the capital of the southeastern Afghan province of Paktika and the province of Mazar-i-Sharif, the largest commercial hub in northern Afghanistan.
The Afghan government remains in control of the capital city of Kabul and Jalalabad, the capital of the eastern province of Nangarhar.
The Taliban surge in the country began shortly after the Biden administration began to withdraw American troops from the region - a move that received criticism and raised concern about the militants taking over the country after the US pullout. The president downplayed those concerns in July, when he said the possibility of the Taliban "overrunning everything" was highly unlikely.
With some US intelligence assessments suggesting that Kabul could be "isolated" by the Taliban within a month or sooner, the Biden administration continues to insist that a US military presence cannot make a difference if the Afghan government "cannot or will not hold its own country".
*The Taliban is a terrorist movement outlawed in Russia and many other countries