President Biden thanked the final US forces serving in Afghanistan for executing the “dangerous retrograde from Afghanistan as scheduled,” with no further loss of American lives, in a statement released Monday evening, making the end of the United States’ longest war.
“The past 17 days have seen our troops execute the largest airlift in US history, evacuating over 120,000 US citizens, citizens of our allies, and Afghan allies of the United States. They have done it with unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve,” the President wrote in the statement released Monday night.
“Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended.”
Biden said he will address the nation on Tuesday on his decision to not extend America’s presence in Afghanistan past Aug. 31, but said in his statement that “it was the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Chiefs and of all of our commanders on the ground to end our airlift mission as planned.”
“Their view was that ending our military mission was the best way to protect the lives of our troops, and secure the prospects of civilian departures for those who want to leave Afghanistan in the weeks and months ahead,” he wrote.
The President also made clear he intends to hold the Taliban accountable to their commitment to allow those seeking to leave the country will be able to do so safely.
“The Taliban has made commitments on safe passage and the world will hold them to their commitments. It will include ongoing diplomacy in Afghanistan and coordination with partners in the region to reopen the airport allowing for continued departure for those who want to leave and delivery of humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan,” the President wrote.
Earlier Monday, CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie acknowledged that the US military “did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out.”
Biden ended his statement “with a moment of gratitude for the sacrifice of the 13 service members in Afghanistan who gave their lives last week to save tens of thousands,” naming each of the American service members killed.