World Formal start of final phase of Afghan pullout by US, NATO
Officials say carrier to help protect Afghanistan pullout
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon has decided to keep an aircraft carrier in the Middle East to help provide protection for American and coalition troops during their planned withdrawal from Afghanistan in coming weeks, U.S. defense officials said Friday. Also, two U.S. Air Force bombers will be deployed to Afghanistan as part of the pre-pullout bolstering of security. The moves back up Pentagon officials' public assurances that U.S. forces will be prepared to meet whatever resistance the Taliban might present during the withdrawal of more than 10,000 U.S. and coalition troops starting after May 1. About 2,500 to 3,500 of those troops are American.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The final phase of ending America's “forever war” in Afghanistan after 20 years formally began Saturday, with the withdrawal of the last U.S. and NATO troops by the end of summer.
President Joe Biden had set May 1 as the official start of the withdrawal of the remaining forces — about 2,500-3,500 U.S. troops and about 7,000 NATO soldiers.
CIA head said to have made unannounced trip to Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — CIA Director William Burns made a recent unannounced visit to Kabul, a senior politician and a well-placed public figure told The Associated Press, as concerns mount about Afghanistan's capability to fight terrorism once the U.S. has withdrawn its remaining troops by summer. Separately, a senior former Afghan security official deeply familiar with the country's counterterrorism program said two of six units trained and run by the CIA to track militants have already been transferred to Afghan control. The three men spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss sensitive security issues with the media.
Even before Saturday, the herculean task of packing up had begun.
The military has been taking inventory, deciding what is shipped back to the U.S., what is handed to the Afghan security forces and what is sold as junk in Afghanistan's markets. In recent weeks, the military has been flying out equipment on massive C-17 cargo planes.
The U.S. is estimated to have spent more than $2 trillion in Afghanistan in the past two decades, according to the Costs of War project at Brown University, which documents the hidden costs of the U.S. military engagement.
Counting the costs of America's 20-year war in Afghanistan
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — America’s longest war, the two-decade-long conflict in Afghanistan that started in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, killed tens of thousands of people, dogged four U.S. presidents and ultimately proved unwinnable despite its staggering cost in blood and treasure. This final chapter, with President Joe Biden’s decision to pull all American troops from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, has prompted a reckoning over the war’s lost lives and colossal expenditure.
Defense department officials and diplomats told The Associated Press the withdrawal has involved closing smaller bases over the last year. They said that since Biden announced the end-of-summer withdrawal date in mid-April, only roughly 60 military personnel had left the country.
The U.S. and its NATO allies went into Afghanistan together on Oct. 7, 2001 to hunt the al-Qaida perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks who lived under the protection of the country's Taliban rulers. Two months later, the Taliban had been defeated and al-Qaida fighters and their leader, Osama bin Laden, were on the run.
In his withdrawal announcement last month, Biden said the initial mission was accomplished a decade ago when U.S. Navy SEALS killed bin Laden in his hideout in neighboring Pakistan. Since then, al-Qaida has been degraded, while the terrorist threat has “metastasized” into a global phenomenon that is not contained by keeping thousands of troops in one country, he said.
U.S. troops are leaving Afghanistan, but Al Qaeda remains
As U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, efforts against a diminished Al Qaeda are in flux. Officials say the terrorist group could threaten the U.S. again.It was a tableau often seen in years past, but on this recent afternoon there was a crucial difference: The Afghans were alone, without the American forces that have backed them in a 20-year war.
Until now the U.S. and NATO have received no promises from the Taliban that they won't attack troops during the pullout. In a response to AP questions, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the Taliban leadership was still mulling over its strategy.
The insurgent group continues to accuse Washington of breaching the deal it signed with Biden's predecessor more than a year ago. In that deal, the U.S. said it would have all troops out by May 1.
Violence has spiked in Afghanistan since the February 2020 deal was signed. Peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government, which were part of the deal, quickly bogged down. On Friday, a truck bomb in eastern Logar province killed 21 people, many of them police and students.
with 47,245 civilians killed, according to the Costs of War project. Millions more have been displaced inside Afghanistan or have fled to Pakistan, Iran and Europe.
Afghanistan's security forces are expected to come under increasing pressure from the Taliban after the withdrawal if no peace agreement is reached in the interim, according to Afghan watchers.
Sluggish visa program imperils Afghan partners as US withdraws
After Ismail Khan, a former Afghan interpreter for the U.S. Army, applied for a special immigrant visa to come to the United States, he waited more than two years. During that time, he lived with constant threats, unable to work or stay in one place for too long. He was eventually granted a visa and moved […] The post Sluggish visa program imperils Afghan partners as US withdraws appeared first on Roll Call.
Since the start of the war they have taken heavy losses, with estimates ranging from 66,000 to 69,000 Afghan troops killed. The Afghan military has been battered by corruption. The U.S. and NATO pay $4 billion a year to sustain the force.
Some 300,000 Afghan troops are on the books, although the actual number is believed to be lower. Commanders have been found to inflate the numbers to collect paychecks of so-called “ghost soldiers,” according to the U.S. watchdog monitoring Washington's spending in Afghanistan.
Last year was the only year U.S. and NATO troops did not suffer a loss. The Defense Department says 2,442 U.S. troops have been killed and 20,666 wounded since 2001. It is estimated that over 3,800 U.S. private security contractors have been killed. The Pentagon does not track their deaths.
The conflict also has killed 1,144 personnel from NATO countries.
The Taliban, meanwhile, are at their strongest since being ousted in 2001.is difficult, they are believed to hold sway or outright control over nearly half of Afghanistan.
“We are telling the departing Americans ... you fought a meaningless war and paid a cost for that and we also offered huge sacrifices for our liberation,” Shaheen told the AP on Friday.
Striking a more conciliatory tone, he added: “If you ... open a new chapter of helping Afghans in reconstruction and rehabilitation of the country, the Afghans will appreciate that.”
In announcing the departure, Biden said waiting for ideal conditions to leave would consign America to an indefinite stay.
In the Afghan capital and throughout the country, there is a growing fear that chaos will follow the departure of the last foreign troops. After billions of dollars and decades of war, many Afghans
Afghanistan Taliban plan 3-day cease-fire for Eid holiday .
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan's Taliban said Monday they would participate in a three-day cease-fire for the Eid-al-Fitr holiday this week marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The cease-fire would begin on either Wednesday or Thursday. The Muslim calendar follows lunar cycles and the Eid holiday depends on the sighting of the new moon. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said Taliban fighters have been ordered to stop all offensives, “to provide a peaceful and secure atmosphere to our compatriots . . . so that they may celebrate this joyous occasion with a greater peace of mind.