WASHINGTON – The White House confirmed Thursday that the U.S. military has begun its withdrawal from Afghanistan and proactively deployed additional troops and military equipment to protect forces in the region.
“Potential adversaries should know that if they attack us in our withdrawal, we will defend ourselves, [and] our partners, with all the tools at our disposal,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters traveling on Air Force One.
“While these actions will initially result in increased forces levels, we remain committed to having all U.S. military personnel out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021,” she said, adding that the Biden administration is intent on a “safe and responsible” exit from the war-torn country.
The Pentagon has temporarily provided B-52H Stratofortress aircraft to U.S. Central Command, the combatant command that oversees American operations in the Middle East. A U.S. Navy carrier strike group is also in the region to provide support.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has previously said that Defense Department leadership will continue to assess the need for additional military capabilities as the departure of U.S. and coalition forces proceeds.
Earlier this month, Biden announced a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, ending America’s longest war.
The removal of approximately 3,000 U.S. service members coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which spurred America’s entry into lengthy wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Biden’s withdrawal timeline breaks with a proposed deadline brokered last year by the Trump administration with the Taliban. According to that deal, all foreign forces would have had to leave Afghanistan by May 1.